Alibaba rolls out pharmacy delivery service

Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) announced a three-hour delivery service for pharmacy items. The service will launch in five Chinese cities and expand to 19 by the end of 2015.

However, Alibaba's Ji Su Da, or 'fast delivery,' will include items beyond healthcare products in the future, reported Reuters.

The partnership includes five pharmacy chains and sells the goods online on the Tmall.com website. Cainiao, a delivery service affiliated with Alibaba, operates in tandem with logistics firms to collect and deliver the order.

The program is similar to a rival service provided by JD.com. JD.com was built on a model emphasizing speedy delivery, similar to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and partners to sell several U.S. brands such as Gap.

Ji Su Da is part of a broader trend to bring offline services online, like searching for a nearby restaurant.

"This service is ideal for consumers who need non-prescription drugs and other healthcare products quickly," Xu Hui, head of Cainiao Ji Su Da, told Reuters. "This service effectively mobilizes resources at both online and offline stores, which in turn brings the customers a seamless shopping experience."

The news about the delivery service comes just days after Alibaba announced that it would start selling products alongside Walmart (NYSE:WMT) on the messaging start-up app Tango.

Last month Alibaba made a $2.5 billion deal to consolidate its healthcare enterprise, combining its online pharmacy operations into Alibaba Health Information Technology Limited.

For more:
-See this Reuters article

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