HANGZHOU: Computing power and data will drive the future of retail, a senior executive at Alibaba, the world's biggest e-commerce site, has said.

Guru Gowrappan, Global Managing Director at Alibaba, addressed this topic at the recent Retail World Congress in Dubai, where he laid out the challenges facing retailers in coming decades.

"We believe that in the next 30 years huge computing power will become the new normal and data will become the new natural resource," he said. (For more details read WARC's exclusive report: Alibaba's omni-channel data model: The future of e-commerce?)

Multi-channel selling is no longer enough – consumers are now demanding a seamless omni-channel experience. And the key to this – for manufacturers as well as retailers – is data, according to Gowrappan.

"This will transform retail and entertainment as well as how manufacturing happens and financial services. This is what we believe data and the cloud computing era will transform into," he said.

At Alibaba, a massive data bank connects all the consumer-facing services together, including e-commerce, payments (such as Alipay) and logistics services.

Gowrappan outlined how Alibaba is further attempting to blend channels for a seamless shopping experience.

"We partnered with Suning, one of the largest electronic retailers in China and really integrated offline and online so that it's a single inventory. You – the user – can go to a store, scan the QR code on a product and buy it on your app and it gets delivered, or you can buy it at home and go to the store for after-sales support and maintenance," he explained.

"During Singles Day, one million offline retail stores were synced with online stores. The power of this is in detail and really thinking about all the user cases and how to integrate across the entire value chain."

Data sourced from WARC