China Unicom, Alibaba in new high-tech shopping deal
China Unicom, the country's second largest wireless telecommunications operator, has unveiled an upgraded format for its service branch in collaboration with Alibaba Group.
The move is a bid to attract new customers and reshape the retail experience by leveraging the e-commerce giant's data and technology expertise.
Consumers can try out virtual reality headsets and electronic gadgets at the service branch on Jiangsu Road in Jing'an District. Traditional mobile phone and broadband services for Unicom subscribers will remain.
Shoppers can also place orders for these home appliances through Alibaba's online retail sites Taobao and Tmall, and pick up the goods at the service branch.
Tmall's smart voice assistant bluetooth speaker Tmall Genie, DJI's drones and food processors are among the 100-plus products available at the Unicom service branch. Augmented reality also allows consumers to use their smartphones to scan for a detailed description and review of the merchandise being sold on spot.
Alibaba and China Unicom jointly analyzed consumer and shopper demand and drew on China Unicom's previous experience to cater to shoppers within a 3-5 kilometer radius of the service branch.
Alibaba's director of the new retail technology business unit, Wang Jiabin, said the company hopes to optimize operational efficiency with China Unicom and seeks to extend the collaboration model to cover more physical retailers soon.
The first of its kind in Shanghai, the China Unicom service branch came after Alibaba Group and China Unicom entered into a strategic collaboration deal covering Internet services, telecommunications infrastructure and cloud computing services earlier this year.
China Unicom raised US$11.7 billion from about a dozen investors, including Alibaba Group and another tech giant, Tencent Holdings, as part of the central government's push for state-owned enterprise reform.