Kroger Co is going overseas for the first time: China, to be specific.
The grocery chain, which is the largest in the US with nearly 2,800 locations, is partnering with e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) on a pilot test of an online store.
It is the latest digital effort by the brick-and-mortar grocer, which has spent the past year trying to reassure investors that it can compete with giants like Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc as they pour billions into operations.
The intersection of retailing and technology is hot in China. Alibaba is on a mission to uproot traditional grocery and department stores with delivery services, high-tech stores and better tracking of inventory and customer data.
JD.com Inc (京東), which already operates a chain of high-tech supermarkets in Beijing, is teaming up with Walmart Inc to combine their network of warehouses and cold storage to shorten delivery to customers. Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) is investing in Carrefour SA’s China unit.
Kroger is to sell products from its natural and organic private label, Simple Truth, for the test in China, which would be run through Alibaba’s Tmall Global (天貓) platform.
Separately, Amazon.com Inc and Twitter Inc are exploring ways to bring more sports content to customers — including personalized notifications of live events — seeking to lure a larger number of viewers in the age of cord-cutting, executives said.
The companies said their global reach makes them good partners for professional leagues such as the US’ National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) that are trying to reach fans who more often are watching sports on smartphones.
Executives of the companies spoke on Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Players Technology Summit in San Francisco.
“Sports leagues get it,” Amazon Prime video channels director Richard Au said. “They need to make sure the product is relevant across age groups and demographics.”
Amazon is experimenting with notifications to mobile devices about live sports events, which differentiates sports from on-demand movies and shows, Au said.
In its push for video content, Amazon has purchased the streaming rights to NFL games, English Premier League soccer matches and the Association of Tennis Professionals tour.
It broadcast games of the NBA’s minor league G teams on its Twitch service.
San Francisco-based Twitter has also expanded its effort in live video and had the exclusive rights to stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season.
Twitter works closely with the NBA, which has been at the forefront of embracing new ways of reaching audiences, Twitter US content partnerships head Laura Froelich said.
The network helps people keep up with the action, watch the games and participate in conversations wherever they are, she said, adding that tweets and discussions about the NBA were busier in the pre-season than during the finals.
“The NBA has been one of our most innovative partners,” she said. “Whenever we have something new, they want to be the first to try it.”
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