Even more aggressively than Amazon, Alibaba positions itself from an e-commerce platform to a full-fledged retail operating system.
This is not so much about the shiny tech toys embedded in flagship automated stores but absorbing every mom-and-pop store with a fully integrated OS. This paints a future where the smallest corner shop will have to be connected to Alibaba or not be relevant anymore for its closest consumers. In just a few years, this will also build a tremendous amount of real-time data on what people need, from groceries to drugs or cars in every part of any given.
Such a strategy (as I already pointed out this summer) also allows for building a new form of added value. It may be by allowing you to try a new car without an appointment, extending your delivery options, and accessing localized offers.
I remember fondly in the 90s when Zara was the most modern example in retail of integrating in-store data into the manufacturing and supply chain. They were riding horses. Alibaba has invented the car.