Bailian Group partners IBM
Bailian Group, China’s largest retailer by sales, will be partnering American technology and consulting corporation IBM to launch its first Internet research center in Shanghai, announced the two parties on March 24.
The center will be housed within the historical Sihang Warehouse, the site that Chinese soldiers used as a stronghold to repel Japanese forces during the Battle of Shanghai, and will occupy 22,000 square meters.
The two main functions of the center will be to help the Shanghai-based retail giant better tap into the e- commerce business as well as to provide an ideal environment for start-ups or “makers”. The latter refers allow customers to see how agricultural products are harvested in New Zealand, and provide order forecasts for their suppliers.
“With the establishment of the new center and the help of technology, we hope Bailian could create a brand new and individualized shopping experience that pushes back the boundaries of space and time,” said Ye Yongming, chairman of Bailian Group.
Founded in 2003, the stateowned Bailian Group is a conglomerate comprising more than 6,000 department stores, retail chains and supermarkets in China. It has a registered capital of 1 billion yuan ($153.6 million).
Despite its expansive sales network and rich history in China, the retailer has been struggling to achieve growth in recent years as consumers have been flocking to e-commerce sites such as Alibaba and JD.com.
In 2013, Bailian made the Fortune Global 500 list for the first time after consolidating $25.2 billion in annual revenues. It was also the first Shanghai retailer in history to be listed. However, in 2014, the group became the only Chinese company on the list that was booted out.
“In 2015, Shanghai recorded 1 trillion yuan worth of retail sales in consumer goods, becoming one of the first two cities in China to reach the benchmark, after Beijing. However, the retail business is also facing an unprecedented challenge and it’s more than urgent for retailers to embrace the Internet now,” said Shang Yuying, director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.