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China's Alibaba Group Holding and JD.com Inc have invested heavily in offline retail - bricks-and-mortar stores - in recent years to complement their online offerings.
With their ready-made payment and social media platforms to lure shoppers, Alibaba and JD.com have helped China become the world’s largest online grocery market, far ahead of the United States.
This early lead, cemented by densely populated urban areas and cheap labor, could be key as retailers and tech firms race to boost margins on low-cost consumer goods by reinventing supply chains with big data analytics.
"China is already the largest online grocery market in terms of value in the world so it's really advanced in terms of scale," said Nick Miles, London-based head of Asia Pacific for food and grocery industry research body IGD.
Sales made online are set to more than double to around 6.6 percent of China's broader grocery market by 2020, compared to around 1.4 percent for U.S. sales by then.
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