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A Chinese initiative is setting the pace in retail

Prepared for delvery by China's Ele.me. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

With its $9.5 billion takeover offer this week for Chinese food-delivery juggernaut Ele.me, Alibaba is pushing ahead with a massive advance into physical retail, a trend that U.S. rivals are only starting to follow.

Why it matters: Alibaba's offer for Ele.me fits into its "New Retail" initiative, shaping the future of retail on a scale that makes it Amazon's true global competition.