Ele.me and Koubei, Alibaba’s two key consumer services units, have jointly rolled out an open operating system for brick-and-mortar stores and supermarket chains in an effort to improve their efficiency, the company said on Monday.

Why it matters: The launch of the system marks another step forward in the e-commerce giant’s pivot towards enterprise-facing businesses. Offering an operating system will help the company to bring leading retailers into the Alibaba ecosystem.

  • The platform allows retail players to streamline online membership engagement, payments, marketing, and on-demand deliveries, as well as the management of supply chains and stock levels.
  • Xiong Bin, vice president of Ele.me, said the system has been rolled out for some major retail chains, according to local media.

Alibaba pushes further into new retail with expanded merchant tools

Details: More than 10,000 supermarkets and at least 200,000 retail chain outlets across 676 cities countrywide are already using the platform.

  • The system will further leverage services and technology capabilities from the broader Alibaba ecosystem, including e-commerce from Taobao and Tmall, fintech from Ant Financial, logistics from Fengniao, and digital marketing from Alimama.
  • Alibaba cooperates with supermarket chains such as RT-Mart, Carrefour, Vanguard, Watsons, CenturyMart and Metro, among others.
  • Vanguard’s orders via on-demand home delivery platform Ele.me jumped 73% month on month after it started using the system, while that of CenturyMart tripled, according to Alibaba.

Context: Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang previously announced the launch of the Alibaba commercial operating system in January as part of its A100 Strategic Partnership program to help firms realize digital transformation.

  • Last month, Alibaba made its system available to merchants and launched an upgraded version of its Fulfillment by Tmall 2.0 (FBT) service platform.
  • After completing its acquisition of Ele.me in April 2018, Alibaba merged the platform with in-house food delivery unit Koubei into the Alibaba Local Services Company in October the same year.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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