HAGZHOU/DUSSELDORF: Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and Metro Group are forming a strategic partnership to enable the German retailer to sell directly to Chinese consumers, the two companies have announced.

Under the terms of the agreement, Metro AG, which is the largest retailer in Germany, will sell private-label products to Chinese online shoppers via Alibaba's Tmall platform.

After opening an exclusive flagship store on Tmall Global, Metro Group will sell more than 100 products, including dairy, canned food, coffee, chocolate and cosmetics.

"This latest innovative platform enables us to deliver more quality imported goods and German brands to the Chinese customers through our competence in global sourcing and supply chain," said Olaf Koch, chairman of Metro AG.

Meanwhile, Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, explained in a statement that the collaboration would also extend to other areas, such as logistics and market data.

"This partnership will encompass collaboration in areas including cross-border ecommerce, logistics, rural ecommerce, online supermarket and online-offline initiatives," he said.

"Insights provided by Alibaba Group's Big Data will help Metro Group effectively capture the demand for quality imported products among Chinese consumers."

Zhang added: "Additionally, Alibaba Group and Metro Group will work together to help more European consumer brands establish fast-track solutions for expanding into the Chinese market."

Indeed, teaming up with leading European consumer brands is becoming a major strategic aim for Alibaba, which recently announced a similar arrangement with Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant.

As Metro Group will do, Unilever uses Alibaba's Tmall platform to reach more Chinese consumers while also using its know-how to collaborate on distribution channels, supply chain management, data analytics and digital advertising.

However, the initiative with Metro Group comes as Alibaba lowered its estimates for gross merchandise volume in the second quarter in the latest sign that weakening economic growth in China is beginning to hit consumer spending.

Data sourced from Alibaba, Metro Group, Reuters; additional content by Warc staff