Alibaba is planning to build a physical shopping center at its Hangzhou, China headquarters, according to MarketWatch.
The five-story brick-and-mortar mall, dubbed "More Mall," is being built on a 40,000-square-meter plot of land and will open in April, according to the article, which cites a local report from linkshop.com.
The mall isn’t Alibaba’s first foray into brick and mortar, which still supplies the bulk of retail sales in China (e-commerce provides 15% of retail sales in China, compared to 8.5% in the U.S.). The Chinese e-commerce giant has already partnered with physical InTime department stores, electronics retailer Suning and offline giant Bailian in China and for the past two years has developed a series of Hema grocery stores in a few cities there.
Alibaba’s increasingly assertive move into physical retail reflects its recently announced "New Retail" strategy, which aims to connect with consumers on all channels. Earlier this summer, executives detailed the company's pivot from a commerce-focused company to one that is interacting with consumers through mobile applications and entertainment services, as well as being driven by big data. Because of that, the company will now refer to "annual active consumers" instead of "annual active buyers" in its reports, according to a June blog post about the company’s investors meeting.
The Chinese company also seems to be creating an e-commerce infrastructure that is more social and interactive, as well as capable of absorbing shopping and data collection in physical retail. CEO Daniel Zhang told investors that the company has essentially grown into an economy unto itself, fueled by Chinese consumers’ comfort with interacting with retailers on mobile. Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace has "already accomplished a successful mobile transition," with 85% of transactions coming from mobile, according to a webcast of the presentation viewed by Retail Dive.
"Taobao… has transformed from a marketplace to a social commerce platform," Zhang said. "Because of the social, because of the fun of discovery, because of the experience exploration… people want to come back again and again and spend so much time with us on our leading Taobao mobile app."
While Alibaba expects the company’s results to be broken down into segments and data points, that’s not how the company approaches its operations and goals, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said last month. "As an investor, your perspective is how do we put a value on each piece of the business in order to understand the value of the entire company," he said. "But that’s not how our customers look at us. As a platform, the question we need to focus on is how do our businesses work together to create more value for consumers and enterprises than if these units were just stand-alone entities."
Alibaba Group last month said that its June quarter revenue rose 56% year over year to RMB 50.184 billion ($7.403 billion), with core commerce sales rising 58% year-over-year to RMB 43.027 billion ($6.347 billion) and revenue from its cloud computing business rising 96% year-over-year to RMB 2.431 billion ($.359 billion). Annual active consumers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces reached 466 million, an increase of 12 million from the 12-month period ended March 31, the company said.