Alibaba reported a 60% increase in revenue from its core commerce operations during FY 2018, reaching approximately $34.1 billion for the year. The retailer has 552 million annual active users in China, up from 454 million users as of March 31, 2017. The number of mobile monthly active users grew to 617 million, up from 507 million.
The company’s retail segment benefited from investments in content and technology, which improved personalization capabilities in China, according to Alibaba’s latest financial report. Alibaba’s expansion of global commerce and cross-border marketplaces also made a significant contribution to the total as well, as did the its omnichannel efforts.
The Alibaba marketplace Tmall continued expanding as well, with physical goods gross merchandise volume (GMV) up 45% in FY 2018. Particularly strong categories included home appliances, apparel, consumer electronics and fast-moving consumer goods. Several retailers established flagship stores on Tmall in Q4 2018, including H&M and Marni.
Alibaba went on a $1.3 billion buying spree in February 2018, taking a 15% stake in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing for approximately $867 million, and a 38% stake in big data retail firm Shiji Retail Information Technology for $486 million. Both investments were part of the company’s “New Retail” initiative, which includes a stronger focus on data and building Alibaba’s brick-and-mortar footprint.
Another aspect of the New Retail program is the Hema grocery retail concept. The stores are used to warehouse and fulfill online orders, and their proximity to customers allows orders to be fulfilled in as little as 30 minutes. The chain recently began offering 24-hour delivery service in Shanghai and Beijing, featuring a growing selection of products.
Walmart has opened its own omnichannel grocery store in Shenzhen, China, which features products that can be purchased on e-Commerce platform JD Daojia, an affiliate of JD.com. The store will initially stock 8,000 items, and its delivery service will compete with the 30-minute window offered by Alibaba.