Alibaba Invests $692mn in Department Store Operator Intime to Focus on Online to Offline Retail

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Alibaba

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group today announced that it planned to invest approximately US$692mn in Intime Retail (HK: 1833), one of China’s leading department store operators. The two companies have agreed to cooperate in developing online to offline (O2O) opportunities.

Subject to customary closing conditions, Alibaba’s investment in Intime will comprise of approximately US$214mn for a 9.9% equity interest in Intime and an approximate US$478mn subscription of convertible bonds issued by Intime, which if converted would give Alibaba no less than a 25% equity interest in Intime.

In connection with this strategic investment, the two companies will explore opportunities to combine the strengths of Alibaba’s Internet commerce technology and platforms with Intime’s physical retail presence in high-end department stores and shopping malls as well as its retail website Yintai.com.

The two companies have agreed to work together to deliver to consumers an online shopping experience connected to Intime’s physical stores and membership system. For example, Alibaba’s Tmall.com—China’s leading online mall—will have access to Intime’s offline inventory product database, enabling a broader product selection of international brands as well as fulfillment of online orders from Intime’s physical stores.

Harnessing Alibaba’s experience in mobile Internet retail, customers will also be able to take advantage of more targeted promotions and membership benefits by connecting their smartphones via wi-fi and location-based technology in Intime stores.

Alibaba and Intime have a track record of O2O collaboration. Intime’s 35 stores partnered with Alibaba on November 11, 2013, piloting a model of offline product selection and online payment. The two companies also jointly promote in-store payment using Alipay.  During the “Mobile Taobao 3.8 Life Festival” in 2014, Intime encouraged use of Alibaba’s Mobile Taobao app to buy and send virtual gift cards.

At the end of 2013, Intime operated 36 stores, including 28 department stores and eight shopping centers. Intime has more than 7.5 million offline SKUs in its product database and over 1.5 million members in its membership system.