Spain’s El Corte Ingl√©s, the biggest department store in Europe by sales, has entered an agreement with Alibaba Group that spans retail, payments, cloud computing and New Retail.
The Madrid-based department store is looking to tap a number of products from Alibaba Cloud, such as big-data analytics and artificial intelligence-driven tools, to deliver more-personalized experiences to its customers. El Corte Ingl√©s is also considering to introduce new sales channels into China for “made-in-Spain” goods by opening flagship stores on Tmall, Alibaba’s China-focused B2C marketplace.
In addition, the companies are looking to explore collaborations in logistics, such as leveraging El Corte Ingl√©s’ shipping capabilities and distribution centers in Spain to support the local fulfilment services of AliExpress, Alibaba’s global B2C marketplace.
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“This agreement will allow us to combine both the physical and online worlds, in order to offer the best shopping experience to our customers. Together, we are writing the future and placing ourselves at the forefront of trade and technology,” said Victor del Pozo, CEO of El Corte Ingl√©s.
The retailer owns 94 department stores across the world, in addition to a large network of hypermarkets, convenience stores, opticians and home-improvement stores, employing 92,000 people who serve more than 700 million customers a year.
In March, El Corte Ingl√©s teamed up with payments provider Alipay, owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, to introduce the service to its department stores. Now, Chinese shoppers at El Corte Ingl√©s locations have the same purchasing experience in Europe that they enjoy in China, paying for purchases by scanning a QR code on the mobile app, without the need to carry cash or credit cards.
“We are confident that the expertise and skills brought by both companies will generate incredible value and opportunities as the cooperation takes shape,” said Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio, the business development head of Tmall in Europe and managing director of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece at Alibaba Group.
This year, Spain replaced the U.S. as the world’s second-most-popular tourist destination, ranking behind only France. It attracted about 82 million visitors last year, including 700,000 visitors from China. The UN World Tourism Organization forecasts that number to reach 1 million by 2020.