Similar to Ikea, but it’s Alibaba

Alibaba has opened a colourful, all-inclusive home-furnishing flagship store in Hangzhou similar to Ikea, but fully augmented by Alibaba’s e-commerce technology.

The Home Times store is the Chinese e-commerce giant’s second major offline push into the US$130 billion Chinese home-furnishing market (it launched designer home-product store House Selection in Hangzhou in December).

Alibaba is reportedly planning to open three more Home Times stores by the end of the year and 15 next year, reports China Money Network.

More than 20,000 items are available in the store, including furniture, kitchenware and stationery – all the most popular items from Alibaba’s online shopping channels. Each item has an electronic price tag that allows staff members to match the price to the online retail price if necessary. The barcode on each tag also allows customers to check and order the item on Tmall.com if they chose, rather than taking bulky products home by car or mass transit. Tmall.com also shows the products in different colours and formations via a touch screen.

More than 30 per cent of customers in China buy their furniture in a furniture shop or at malls, while 21 buy online, according to a report by Chinese real-estate portal Fang.com.

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