Alibaba’s plans show data will transform grocery shopping

The acquisition of $2.88b stake in Sun Art is a leap forward in Alibaba’s bid to integrate online and offline for products with a short shelf life. The ripple effect may be felt worldwide.

Alibaba Group’s purchase of a 36% stake in one of China’s biggest hypermarket operators for $2.88 billion highlights the value of data and scale in food shopping.

The internet firm was willing to pay 18.8 times 2017 earnings for the bricks-and-mortar network of Sun Art Retail Group because it sees physical stores as a stepping stone to becoming the e-commerce grocer to China’s internet savvy 1.3 billion consumers.

“Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalised services in the digital economy,” Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive officer, said in a statement on Monday.

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