Building on its new retail vision, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce arm, Taobao Maicai, has announced the transformation of its offline retail outlet, the Tmall Store, into the Lingli Store.
The newly rebranded store will now offer 24/7 operations, catering to the increasing consumer demand for round-the-clock convenience. As part of this transformation, Lingli store owners will also lead Taobao’s next-day grocery pickup groups. These changes are set to first roll out in pilot provinces including Guangdong, Hubei, Hebei, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Sichuan.
This evolution in retail was anticipated by Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group board, back in the 2016 Yunqi Conference. During his speech, Ma emphasised the rapidly changing e-commerce landscape. He introduced the concept of “new retail”, suggesting that “The era of pure e-commerce will soon end…In the next ten or twenty years, there will be no such thing as e-commerce.” Ma’s vision underscored the seamless integration of online, offline, and logistics operations as the future of retail.
The transition to the Lingli Store aligns with modern consumer preferences, while simultaneously presenting store owners with a potentially lucrative business model. For merchants, this model promises high returns on low-cost investments. Local residents, too, will benefit, as they can now shop spontaneously or collect their Taobao grocery orders without being bound by traditional business hours.
Alibaba’s introduction of the Lingli Store also signifies a strategic move to tap into the burgeoning trend of community group buying in China. In fact, a report by Kantar Worldpanel showed double-digit sales growth in community group buying in the second quarter of 2023, which emphasises value for money. Remarkably, 26% of urban households opted for fast-moving consumer goods via this method in the last quarter.
As urban households increasingly lean towards collective purchasing for bulk discounts, especially for groceries and daily essentials, the Lingli Store positions itself as a pivotal hub to facilitate these group transactions. By offering 24/7 operations and aligning with Taobao’s next-day grocery pick-up groups, Alibaba ensures that the Lingli Store is not just a physical retail space but a modern-day community commerce centre, where online and offline worlds merge to cater to this evolving consumer behaviour.