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Alibaba eyes customer data with new convenience stores in China

Online retail group aims to gather new info through brick-and-mortar stores

Supermarkets, department stores, and now convenience stores: China's online shopping giant Alibaba is expanding its offline retail portfolio. (Top photo by Naoki Matsuda, bottom by Reuters) 

SHANGHAI -- After making a foray into the supermarket and department store industries, Chinese e-commerce operator Alibaba Group Holding is now aiming for dominance in another retail area: the country's rapidly growing convenience store market. What it appears to be after most is a treasure trove of detailed data on purchases that is not available from its online shoppers.

In March, Alibaba quietly opened a convenience store in a shopping center in Shanghai, China's biggest consumer hub. The store, called Yike EGO, is a guinea pig project as the company's first convenience store opened in partnership with major retailer Bailian Group.

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