Alibaba looks to roll out emerging tech for offline retail shopping

Alibaba looks to roll out emerging tech for offline retail shopping
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
3 Oct, 2018

China's biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba, is in talks with several Indian firms to provide emerging tech solutions such as augmented reality for retail shopping experiences, a report said.

Alibaba aims to deploy cloud commerce, digital shopping applications and location data analytics to boost customer experience at physical stores, said The Economic Times.

It will also attempt to provide the experience of online shopping in offline stores.

According to the report, Alibaba Cloud has already struck a partnership with DLF shopping malls and is in discussions with several others.

“We are talking to almost every single retail brand in the country. We want to partner with the brands in their omni-channel journeys, as well as strengthen supply chains, offer intelligence on business operations, and enhance customer experience,” Vivek Gupta, head of business development for India and Saarc at Alibaba Cloud, said in the report. Saarc is South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Alex Li, who heads Alibaba’s cloud business in the Asia-Pacific, had recently told TechCircle that the company is looking to leverage its expertise in e-commerce and fin-tech to convince more Indian customers to sign up for its cloud offerings.

Jack Ma-led Alibaba dominates the Chinese cloud computing market and is currently the second-largest player in the Asia-Pacific and Japan. Alibaba Cloud opened its first data centre in India earlier this year.

“India is a key market in Alibaba Cloud’s globalisation strategy, and we see tremendous opportunity to help local enterprises grow," Li told TechCircle. "Our strong expertise in e-commerce, logistics, retail and fin-tech have helped us develop cloud solutions that can add value to our current as well as prospective customers."

Alibaba Group has invested in a number of internet companies in India, including digital wallet firm Paytm and online grocery startup BigBasket. Li said that Alibaba Cloud was working to accelerate adoption of its services among these portfolio companies.

Alibaba Cloud recently launched a new distribution channel to take on strong US rivals Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. As part of the initiative, channel partners are encouraged to create awareness among ecosystem participants such as sales, technology and service partners. The team will focus on startups and internet companies to kick-start Alibaba Cloud's growth in India, Li said.

Alibaba Cloud has 49 availability zones -- locations within data centre regions from which public cloud services originate and operate -- across 18 economic centres globally, including one in Mumbai.

Li said that the India centre was large enough to cater to demand for the next three to five years. Most large cloud players including Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud have set up data centres in India over the past two to three years.