(Yicai Global) Dec. 20 -- Chinese online retail titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will team up with appliance maker Midea Group Ltd. to release a million smart vending machines over the next two years as the pair look to expand in the staffless retail sector.
A Midea [SHE:000333] team has partnered Alipay and Sesame Credit, the payment platform and credit rating system operated by Alibaba [NYSE:BABA], the pair said yesterday in Anhui province. Consumers will be able to scan a QR code using the Alipay app to select goods from the vending machines and make an automated payment using either of the Alibaba apps.
The new machines will enter China's first- and second-tier cities within the next 18 months, the duo added. They believe the brand will become a leading name in unmanned Chinese retail within 30 months.
Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma began pushing the New Retail model last year, which he describes as "the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain." The company recently unveiled plans to open car vending machines in major Chinese cities in order to make life easier for vehicle buyers.
The pair is ready to start making 5,000 vending machines a month from February, the project founder said. He expects the number will rise to as much as 20,000 in the second quarter next year.