The Alibaba Group is planning to invest about $21 million in a milk delivery startup that uses an SMS or QR code to allow people to pick up orders from nearby refrigerators, according to reports.
The Shanghai-based startup, called Tianxianpei, is an online-to-offline (O2O) milk delivery service owned by Mengniu Dairy.
Alibaba said it will invest about 150 million yuan into the company before the end of next year for about a 50 percent stake. Once the transaction is complete, Mengniu Dairy will also hold 50 percent of shares.
Tianxianpei, which was started last year, delivers milk, juice, yogurt and coffee to 15 cities in China. Customers can also get products through Alibaba’s Taobao or Tmall online marketplaces. They can use SMS or QR codes to get their products.
Alibaba has recently been developing its O2O business dealings by digitizing its operating and supply chain systems, mobile operations, in-store tech and consumer data, with the aim of simplifying the overall purchasing process.
Alibaba recently launched a retail chain called Freshippo (called Hema in China). The chain allows customers to use their phones to not only search for products, but also to place orders while in the store. It also uses customer data to help the company make more efficient deliveries. Freshippo had about 150 stores as of the end of June.
On Nov. 26, Alibaba will offer 500 million shares for a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The company, which is based in Hangzhou, raised $25 billion went it went public in New York. Alibaba has invested about $5.47 billion into 23 companies this year, as of the end of June. The company has also invested about $853 million into what it classifies as innovative services.