With help from Tencent and Baidu, China’s shopping mall king just ventured into e-commerce
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Photo Credit: aphotostory/ Shutterstock

Ffan the online store launched by three of China’s biggest companies is finally gone live.

Tech in Asia

Nearly a year after three giant Chinese companies teamed up to take on Alibaba, the newly-minted e-commerce store finally and quietly launched this week. The site, Ffan, is the result of a billion-dollar joint venture between Tencent, Baidu, and Wanda Group, a conglomerate best known for its chain of movie theatres and malls.

The joint venture started with $814 million in its pocket in August 2014, with Wanda holding a 70% stake, and Tencent and Baidu splitting the remainder evenly. In January, it secured venture capital funding to the tune of $161 million.

Local commerce

The new online store designed to take on Alibaba’s e-commerce dominance, with a focus on helping people buy local products and services. That’s why visitors to Ffan can choose their city to see local deals.  At first glance, Ffan looks odd and rather bare. The only two product categories on the top navigation bar are “food” and “movie tickets.”

Browsing through the city-specific food section reveals that most of the products are from retailers at Wanda’s shopping malls across the country. Indeed, users can browse through the Ffan site or the accompanying mobile app according to their nearest mall.

Wanda, a private company which boasted assets totalling $85.6 billion in 2014, has reportedly been plotting a leap from offline retail to e-commerce for several years, but this launch doesn’t reveal much that should worry Alibaba or arch-rival JD right now. It’s not a general e-commerce store like Alibaba’s Tmall or JD, and the offerings are slim.

Sill, Wanda has the reach, across malls, cinemas, hotels, resorts, theme parks, and several other areas, to challenge Alibaba in terms of the fast-growing interest on the web for local, on-demand products and services.

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.

Featured Image Credit: aphotostory/ Shutterstock

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