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Alibaba and make foray into groceries

Live crabs and frozen ice pops delivered in (not quite) 30 minutes

Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma Yun, center, and CEO Daniel Zhang Yong, to Ma's right, visit Hema's Shanghai store in July.

SHANGHAI -- The rise of online-to-offline retailing in China has blurred the boundary between the two traditional mechanisms of selling consumer goods, and the country's e-commerce giants are determined not to miss the chance to finally get into perishables -- the last remaining stronghold for brick-and-mortar stores.

Recently, the Nikkei office in Shanghai decided to try out the half-hour delivery service of startup grocery store chain Hema Xiansheng with a simple order -- a bunch of bananas, some ice pops, two live crabs and a few other groceries.

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