We mined Alibaba’s acquisitions, investments, and partnerships to discern the company's strategic priorities in retail.
Alibaba is one of the world’s biggest retailers, tallying up more than $1.2T in gross merchandise volume across its platforms in its last fiscal year. The company has reported serving more than 1B annual active consumers.
Over its 20+ year history, the company has ventured into more and more industries, including cloud computing, healthcare, travel, and entertainment, among others.
But retail is still its foundation. In 2017, the behemoth announced its vision for “New Retail.” The aim is to integrate Alibaba’s advanced e-commerce data and analytics into offline commerce to create a seamless omnichannel experience.
Over the last few years, Alibaba has taken significant steps in its New Retail journey. For example, in October 2020 the company took a majority stake in Sun Art, a China-based big-box supermarket retailer. Sun Art’s 484 brick-and-mortar stores were immediately integrated into Alibaba’s online grocery platforms and fulfillment network.
Across that same period, many of Alibaba’s strategic partnerships have been geared toward reaching beyond China to find new sources of growth. For instance, the retailer formed relationships with Saudia Cargo and New York-based Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings to enable cross-border commerce to Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, as well as to South America.
Notably, Alibaba’s influence (and that of its fellow tech sector leaders) has become so strong that the Chinese government has taken regulatory action against the company for alleged anticompetitive behavior. As a result, the tech giant has begun to unravel several business relationships.
Using CB Insights data, we uncovered 5 of Alibaba’s most important strategic priorities in retail, highlighted by the giant’s recent acquisitions, investments, and partnerships. We then categorized companies by their business relationships with Alibaba across these priorities.
- Cross-border commerce
- Express logistics
- Omnichannel retail
- Online grocery