As “new retail” changes from jargon to oft-used phrase, Tencent has thrown their hat into the ring. However, they don’t plan on opening their own stores (the WeChat pop-up seems to have been exactly that). Rather they want to be the foundation to help the retail industry achieve two goals: the digital upgrade of stores and the optimization of user experience.

“Tencent does not do retail, not even any commerce, but is only the ground level (底层) and gives the opportunity to all partners,” Tencent CEO Pony Ma said (our translation) at a recent conference.

Since Tencent began to cooperate with many offline industries using WeChat as their payment option in 2014, the tech giant has continuously provided tools for retail enterprises through Tencent Cloud, social advertisements, and more recently mini programs to connect people and businesses.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com