Customers scan quick-response codes with their mobile phones to snatch discounts at a Yintai department store in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, on December 31. Photo: CFP
O2O commerce(click the picture)
E-commerce company Alibaba Group will offer a coupon spree on March 8 Women's Day to consumers, beefing up its presence in online-to-offline (O2O) services, the company told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The package will encompass nearly 3,000 offline department stores, brand shops, karaoke parlors and restaurants.
In the best case, a consumer will be able to watch a movie at a Wanda cinema for the price of 3.8 yuan ($0.62) at a discount offered by Alibaba and its partners.
Since beginning of March, consumers will be able to download discount coupons from stores through apps on their mobile phones and cash in those coupons at stores via Alipay, Alibaba's third-party online payment platform, on March 8.
Alibaba Group wants to blur the line between online and offline shopping, Wu Qian, manager of Alibaba Group's O2O department, told the Global Times Wednesday in an e-mail.
"Online shoppers could become fans of department stores and restaurants while shoppers on the street can also stay connected to online shops," Wu said.
Yang Yang, an analyst with iResearch, told the Global Times Wednesday Alibaba "aims to copy its successful sales campaign every November 11 with mobile terminals."
Working with Alibaba, leading department stores such as the Yintai retail chain, Joy City shopping malls and the New World department stores have already opened their sites on the mobile app of taobao.com, Alibaba's business-to-consumer e-commerce platform, on handheld devices.
This would enhance its position in the O2O services market with activities generated between its mobile shopping platform, consumers and retailers, Yang believed.
Alipay dominated the mobile payment market with a 900 billion yuan transaction volume in 2013 and became the largest mobile payment provider in the world, according to a February 8 report by the company.
"Since 2013, O2O service has become the new battleground for internet giants and retailers," Liu Hongjiao, an industry expert and marketing vice president of e-commerce platform cogobuy.com that sells integrated circuits, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"The traditional retailers have accumulated immense resources over the years, and Alibaba's promotion on Women's Day could help the e-commerce giant to integrate its resources." Retailers once sought to set up mobile shopping channels through their own efforts, but their attempts were not as successful as giants like Alibaba Group and 360buy.com who already dominate the market, Liu said.
Aliaba's Wu said, "Alibaba is also discussing with retailers functions that enable customers to receive discount information that suits their shopping habits on their mobile phones as they enter the shop."
Altogether 37 department stores, 1,500 brand shops, 230 karaoke parlors, 288 cinemas and 800 restaurants nationwide will take part in Alibaba Group's March 8 promotion.
Alibaba rival Tencent combined social networking with online payment in 2013 via its instant messaging app WeChat.
"Mapping, consumer service rating and taxi-hailing services - the companies compete on every front in O2O services," Yang said.
Tencent staged a successful red envelope campaign during the Spring Festival holidays, increasing its online payment accounts by millions overnight through its powerful social networking app.