In January, Alibaba announced a bid to privatize Intime Retail, a leading Chinese department store and mall operator. The proposed privatization did not come as a surprise, as it is consistent with Alibaba’s strategic goal of enhancing its integration with physical stores and developing its “New Retail” concept. Alibaba Founder and Chairman Jack Ma coined the term “New Retail” in a letter to Alibaba’s shareholders in October last year. Ma said, “Pure e-commerce will be reduced to a traditional business and replaced by the concept of New Retail―the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain.” We believe that this is very much how next-generation commerce will look globally, with large retailers and niche category specialists leveraging technology to provide an integrated service with the consumer at its core. Alibaba is pioneering the development of this model in China and has made bold and quick steps in expanding its physical retail capabilities. In just over a year, the company went from opening its first physical store to moving to acquire a major department store chain in the country. The speed with which Alibaba took these steps suggests that it is taking a play out of its e-commerce book, focusing on achieving a sizable presence in the market before any of its potential competitors do. Read more at Forbes.