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Jack Ma’s Alibaba is Building a High-Tech Mall of the Future in China

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    China’s leading e-commerce site, owned by the nation’s richest man, is reportedly opening its first physical mall next year.

    Alibaba is now building the five-story mall near its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, eastern China, according to Beijing news group Caixin. Construction is said to be underway on a 40,000-square-meter (131,233-square-foot) plot of land.

    The shopping center, reportedly called “More Mall,” is apparently part of the company’s so-called “New Retail” concept, which Ma described in February as “the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain.”

    As CEO Daniel Zhang put in July, “Alibaba believes the future of New Retail will be a harmonious integration of online and offline.”

    More Mall isn’t Alibaba’s first entry in the offline arena, however. According to Forbes, the company invested up to $8 billion in brick-and-mortar retailing in the last two years. In January, it privatized Intime Retail — a top Chinese mall operator — for $2.6 billion.

    Now, unnamed sources are claiming that the company will bring “new retail technologies” to More Mall, Caixin noted. These would be high-tech makeup-testing mirrors and virtual fitting rooms, among others.

    The mall is naturally expected to feature both conventional and unique brands on Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform. In addition, it is believed to house a Hema supermarket store.

    Hema first launched as an app in 2015, allowing shoppers to order groceries through their phones and pay via Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment platform.

    More Mall is expected to open its doors to the public in April 2018.

    Image via Flickr / UNclimatechange (CC BY 2.0)

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