El Corte Inglés and Alibaba Group partner to develop global digital retail

By Paul Skeldon November 30, 2018 - 9:30 am

El Corte Inglés, Europe’s largest department store is partnering with Alibaba Group to explore new business opportunities within a “digital retail” – giving the Spanish department store access to Alibaba Group’s marketplaces, which Alibaba looks to open stores in Europe.

The two companies kicked off the collaboration by outlining areas in which their respective business units and affiliates, including Tmall, Alibaba Cloud, Alipay and AliExpress, will cooperate and develop a number of relevant initiatives.

As part of this comprehensive arrangement, the two companies have agreed to explore a number of cooperation initiatives in order to progress their respective omnichannel plans by combining and getting the best of both physical and online worlds – powered by digital innovation.


As a major thrust of the deal, El Corte Inglés will leverage Alibaba’s B2C marketplaces, including Tmall and AliExpress, in order to offer its products and goods to Alibaba’s users in China and worldwide via, among others, a namesake flagship store.

The ultimate goal would be to enable Alibaba’s consumers to access a wider range of great Spanish and international brands commonly sold in El Corte Inglés department stores, including a number of the most iconic and finest “made in Spain” goods.

AliExpress will also consider establishing a number of physical points at El Corte Inglés shopping centres to recreate a unique and engaging shopping experience while promoting some of its latest products available to Spanish shoppers.

This would follow a pioneering initiative that saw AliExpress opening a pop-up store in the El Corte Inglés’ Sanchinarro shopping centre in Madrid earlier this month for Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival – also known as Singles’ Day.

Both companies may also explore close cooperation regarding delivery & supply infrastructure and channels. In this sense, Alibaba may benefit from the Spanish company’s logistics knowledge and capabilities in the country, and explore the use of its distribution centres as collection points for online purchases made through AliExpress.

Smart payments

In March 2018, El Corte Inglés signed an agreement with Alipay, the world’s leading mobile and lifestyle platform operated by Ant Financial, a related company of Alibaba Group, to bring seamless payment experience to Chinese tourists visiting Spain. This may now expand, as El Corte Inglés will cooperate to develop new initiatives to create new shopping experiences for Chinese visitors.

Cloud computing and innovation

El Corte Inglés will have the opportunity to access a comprehensive suite of technology solutions made available by Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group – encompassing big data analytics for real-time business decision making, and artificial intelligence capabilities offering customer personalisation for enhanced relationship management.

“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. El Corte Inglés owns department stores in the best locations of the main cities of Spain and Portugal, and is granted with the confidence and trust of national and international customers. All of this, joined to Alibaba’s technology, will allow us to offer a proposal of unbeatable value.”

– Victor del Pozo, CEO of El Corte Inglés

“We are delighted to have signed this comprehensive letter of intent with a leading international retailer such as El Corte Inglés, involving four of our business units. We are looking forward to joining forces with them to provide consumers in China and worldwide with the greatest products and experience. As a global technology company, digital transformation and innovation in all fields are fundamental drivers of Alibaba’s mission of making it easy to do business anywhere, with the ultimate goal of better serving our consumers and stakeholders worldwide, today and tomorrow. Hence, we are confident that the expertise and skills brought by both companies will generate incredible value and opportunities as the cooperation takes shape.”

– Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio, Managing Director for Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece at Alibaba Group and business development General Manager of Tmall in Europe

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