Alibaba is ramping up its investments in its physical retail footprint and partnerships to develop its new retail strategy that combines online and offline platforms to transform the retail experience. The Chinese firm will pay RMB 5.45 billion (around $867 million) for a 15 percent stake in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing. It pumped $486 million into a big data firm focused on hotels and retail, as part of a push to deepen its offline presence. “The investment will combine the strengths of the world’s largest e-commerce platform and rich offline sources of Easyhome”, Alibaba said in a statement.
Beijing Easyhome is the nation’s second largest in its field as it operates 223 physical home furnishing and DIY-style stores across 29 provinces in China. The deal represents Alibaba’s fourth major investment in the brick and mortar chain. According to Reuters reports, the e-commerce operator is also set to acquire a 38 percent stake in Shiji Retail Information Technology, which specializes with hotels and high-street retailers on data-related services to build client footfall, develop engagement and more.
Last year, it led the $2.6 billion privatization of shopping mall operator, as well as bought major holdings in hypermarket firm, Sun Art for $2.9 billion. Before that, it invested $4.6 billion in high-profile electronics retailer, Suning. The company has also made its independent move by being one of the early adopters of cashier-less checkouts through its Hema supermarket chain.