Alibaba forms partnership with supermarket operator Bailian

Chinese tech giant Alibaba has formed a strategic partnership with retail conglomerate Bailian Group (百聯集團), extending a push into brick-and-mortar retail as online growth slows.

This collaboration will see both companies pool their resources and leverage tech to modernise and connect offline retail stores and operations, as well as deliver more effective customer experiences.

These will include overhauling channel store operations to enable real-time service solutions at physical stores; conducting joint R&D in AI, IoT and big data; implementing geolocation, facial recognition and big-data driven sales to improve customer service; and using customer insights and supplier channels to improve merchandise selection and reduce cost.

Alibaba and Bailian will also co-design brick-and-mortar stores that merge offline and online shopping and services.

Additionally, Alibaba will introduce its online payment service Alipay to Balian’s stores; while Bailian payment tools Safepass and Balian OK card will be integrated with Alipay.

“New retail reimagines the relationship between consumers, merchandise and retail space by leveraging mobile internet and big data. It will upend the traditional manufacturing and supply chain, the connection between merchant and consumer, as well as the overall consumer experience,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group.

Shanghai-based Bailian Group is one of China's largest retailers by sales, operating 4,700 outlets in 200 cities including supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies.