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Online Taobao goes Offline in Singapore

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The direction of travel for online retailers is offline, or at least to have a few shops. From Amazon to Bonobos, some of the more established players have been dipping toes in water to see whether there is something in having a physical as well as a virtual retail operation.

Now Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, owned by Alibaba, has welcomed shoppers to its first store, in Singapore’s Funan Mall. This is a 6,000 sq ft affair and it stocks furniture and homewares, but just a minute portion of what can be bought from the Taobao site.

That said, for those wishing to experience the online brand in the flesh, the store has roomsets and shoppers can buy the smaller items to take home by scanning the QR code on each item and then purchasing via the Taobao website (thereby avoiding the need for manned cash desks). If the larger pieces of furniture are desired, these are delivered to the purchaser’s home a couple of weeks later.

Humans are on hand in the store to help with the shopping process!