How Alibaba Transformed Shopping in China's Second-String Cities

Checking deliveries from online marketplaces Tmall and Taobao at an express delivery company in Beijing Photograph by AFP/Getty Images

Li Yuxin remembers when she had to travel from Zhangjiekou, her northern Chinese home town, to visit her half-sister in Beijing so she could buy the right clothes. Sure, Zhangjiekou has large shopping malls full of cheap t-shirts and baggy jackets, but not stores where the aspiring fashionista could purchase accessories from such foreign luxury brands as Prada or even popular Western sportswear made by Nike and Adidas.

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