China's Biggest Online Mall Now Wants to be Your Supermarket

You’ve long been able to buy pretty much anything on China’s Taobao, right down to a single tube of toothpaste. And now the huge C2C e-commerce site is going to make it easier to buy your groceries online with the launch of the Taobao Convenience Store next Monday.The site can be found at 24.taobao.com, and is a direct challenge from Alibaba-run Taobao to China’s top food and groceries e-tailer, Yihaodian, which is majority owned by Walmart.The new Taobao Convenience Store - which now has a preview page up, but won’t start working until the 14th - is basically aggregating all the food and consumables already being sold by lots of Taobao vendors, collecting them all together to make it easier for people to do grocery shopping on the site. It has a mix of regular and imported items, but initially will operate just in two cities; an Alibaba spokesperson explained to TechinAsia this afternoon:The platform is a lifestyle platform that aims to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of Chinese consumers by providing a wide range of imported food and lifestyle products. At this time we have already begun to cooperate with offline supermarkets, and in the first phase of the platform launch we will mainly service consumers situated in Beijing and Hangzhou.Hangzhou is Alibaba’s base, in case you’re wondering why they chose that medium-sized city just south of Shanghai.Taobao and its sister site Tmall racked up 1 trillion RMB (US$159.5 billion) in sales in just the first 11 full months of 2012.
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