Here’s what you should know.

1. Supermarket giant Walmart now owns 12% of China’s JD 

Walmart first took a 5 percent stake in JD mid-2016, but has since quietly upped the ante in China’s online shopping battle by acquiring more of the Alibaba arch-rival. Walmart’s JD stake is now worth US$5 billion.

Rising on the back of China’s ongoing ecommerce boom, JD has seen its valuation rise nearly 60% since its 2014 IPO in the US.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. iFashion Group buys Singaporean lifestyle brand Megafash for $2.5m

Megafash specializes in showcasing smaller, independent brands through a combination of online retail and physical stores. The startup has been operating in Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. After the acquisition, it will continue under its own brand.

Megafash co-founder Jeremy Khoo joins iFashion as CEO.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: A virtual empire

Chinese giant Alibaba Group Holdings is gearing up to bridge online shopping with physical shopping through VR and AR.

“We want to create a new economy where the online world is integrated with the physical world,” said Jack Ma. “We’re building an economic entity, a virtual economy on the internet.”

The company has also begun to use technology for logistics.

“We’ve used technology to make a smart fulfillment network through 163 warehouses and 140,000 routes. Our data analytics can be used to analyse the shortest routes and help merchants manage their inventories,” said Judy Tong, chief executive of Cainiao Network, Alibaba’s logistics arm.

Read the rest of the story here.

Welcome back to our morning round-up. Here’s what you need to know before the weekend arrives.

1. Matahari Department Store’s shares up amidst controversy

Amidst controversy regarding Emirsyah Satar, the current chairman of Lippo Group’s as a potential suspect in a bribery case related to the procurement of aircrafts and engines, shares for Matahari Department Store have actually gone up 1.3% to 14,900 rupiah.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. As cross-border buying booms, so does Tmall global

The total number of international brands on the platform skyrocket 169% to 14,500 in 2016 from 5,400 last year. The number of product categories soared 85% to 3,700 from 2,000 over the same period.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Amazon may be integrating shopping experiences into VR

Last month the company hired former Tribeca Film Festival head Genna Terranova to oversee VR projects at the company’s studio. A recent job posting shows that the company is looking for a creative director of VR to “envision the future of Amazon’s VR solutions” Variety reports. Nothing has been confirmed since then but perhaps we will be able to shop virtually on Amazon soon.

Read the rest of the story here.

The ecommerce giant’s 400 million customers will soon be able to buy products from stores all over the world, by wearing a VR helmet or glasses designed to simulate being in a physical store.

Alibaba says it plans to launch a demonstration VR store by the end of this month and could launch a large-scale rollout by the end of this year.

Shoppers can rotate products they see in the virtual store by moving the controller that connects to the Vive helmet and even ask for a model to show how the product works or is worn. Users can also use the controller to click the buy button to purchase the item in the digital store.

“VR is a great way to demonstrate products or services, especially for some categories, like furniture and travel products.” Zhuang Zhuoran, senior director of mobile at Alibaba, said at the briefing. “It also adds more fun to shopping.”

Alibaba has set up a facility, its Gnome Magic Lab, in March, to develop software that would enable merchants to build virtual stores more easily.

A shopper who wants to test the virtual reality will need VR gear, which ranges in price from $20 to $1,000. VR products are hot at the moment, with consumers buying 300,000 units of VR gear on Alibaba’s Chinese online marketplaces each month, Alibaba says.

Alibaba also has invested in VR technology startups. For example, earlier this year Alibaba led the $794 million funding round for US-based startup Magic Leap Inc.

A version of this appeared in Internet Retailer on July 9. Read the full article here