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Image credit: Ruben Sprich / Reuters

Alibaba reportedly expanding its empire with physical shopping mall

The five-story marketplace is being built near the ecommerce giant's headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
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Ruben Sprich / Reuters

According to reports, ecommerce giant Alibaba is building a five-floor shopping mall near the company's headquarters in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Aptly called "More Mall," the location is built on 40,000 square meters of land and is slated to open in April.

The mall will include brands from its Taobao ecommerce platform and new retail tech like makeup-testing mirrors and virtual fitting rooms, according to Caixin. The company has been tinkering with its own spin on digital-physical retail since 2015 when it launched its Hema service that allowed users to order groceries through a mobile app. Later, Alibaba opened brick-and-mortar Hema stores, and one will be included in the More Mall.

The More Mall is a formative step in Alibaba's goal to mix physical and digital retail with logistics and data units for a cohesive grasp on how folks shop. If this sounds familiar, it's likely why Amazon recently bought Whole Foods: To get first-hand data and then dominate an industry by applying its robust supply and shipping infrastructure, which has allowed it to get an edge on competitors by lowballing prices.

Neither of these giants are content to remain in their geographic spheres, by the by: Amazon extended its Prime service into China last October, while Alibaba opened its mobile payment system up to 4 million US stores back in May. But beyond providing these companies with new sources of purchasing behavior data, brick-and-mortar locations have a simpler advantage: More real estate to sell stuff, like the Echo speakers Amazon's already stuffing inside Whole Foods stores.

We've reached out to Alibaba for comment and will include it when they respond.

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