E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said on Sunday it will pay 5.45 billion yuan ($865 million) for 15% of one of China’s leading traditional home improvement chains, extending its strategy of combining online and offline retailing.
The investment in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing Chain Store Group Co. Ltd “underscores Alibaba’s commitment to furthering the new retail strategy by taking it into new sectors and driving the seamless convergence of online and offline retail experience,” Alibaba said in a statement.
Alibaba has moved aggressively into traditional retail concepts with high-tech touches to improve efficiency and convenience. One of its main initiatives has been an unmanned convenience store concept, and the company is also reportedly building a high-tech shopping mall in its hometown of Hangzhou. Alibaba has also rolled out smaller automated traditional retailing concepts such as vending machines that sell fresh live crabs, a product usually sold in supermarkets and seafood markets.