Alibaba And Its New Retail

Last week, I published a piece about Alibaba’s foray into grocery stores. At the time, I thought it was their first entry into the world of what they call “New Retail” and what we would call “Omnichannel” or “converged” commerce.

Well, I was wrong.

Tmall [Alibaba’s retail marketplace] has already provided technology to over 400 brands, including Burberry and Zara, and is only just beginning. The goal for the next twelve months is…wait for it…collaboration with 1,000 brands and “digitizing” 200,000 storefronts nationwide.

This makes Amazon’s purchase of 430+ Whole Foods Market stores seem pretty puny, doesn’t it?

While we, as a country, are busily threatening China and others with trade tariffs, and Jeff Bezos continues to get acres of free press every time he tosses a new fantasy into the ether, Jack Ma is making this “New Retail” a reality. We talk about Amazon’s “trillion dollar valuation” with awe and wonder, and analysts have started muttering about breaking the company up. In the meanwhile, Alibaba continues to grow in its own growing market. A lot.

Like many people, I assumed after Alibaba’s poor entrée into the US that we’d never hear from them much again…but it turns out the company is doing everything Amazon is doing…only more, better and faster.