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Business Insight

The secret engine of Alibaba's 'new retail' plans

'Uni-marketing' will synthesize vast range of consumer data to support vendors

"New retail" is Alibaba Group Holding's key buzzword right now. Though probably the least creative business term ever, the company's idea of combining online and physical retail into a seamless, data-driven consumer experience is exciting. It is already starting to give rise to new business models, from transformed supermarkets and cashierless convenience stores to automated package pickup centers and perhaps even delivery by drone.

Internally, Alibaba uses the term "uni-commerce" to describe these initiatives, according to Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung. The apparent notion is to have consumers interact with brands, merchants and retailers under a single unified consumer identity in both physical and online locations.

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