SHANGHAI, May 28 (Reuters) - China's Taobao Mall, a unit of Alibaba Group, said on Monday it has signed an agreement with nine domestic logistics firms to significantly expand its delivery network and raise its competitiveness in the e-commerce sector.
Taobao Mall, China's largest business-to-consumer website, said last September it was targeting 200 billion yuan ($31.53 billion) in transactions in 2012. The deal is expected to create 5 billion yuan of business for the courier companies involved.
The move into logistics comes as e-commerce players vie for dominance in China's intensely competitive sector. Taobao Mall takes about 50 percent of the business-to-consumer market while 360buy, an independent retailer, is in second place.
"Our collaborative efforts with these logistics industry heavyweight companies will help to provide higher quality delivery services to online shoppers," Daniel Zhang, president of Taobao Mall, said in a statement.
Under the agreement, the nine companies will provide customised services for Taobao Mall such as next day delivery, while Taobao Mall will support the firms by sharing logistics data with them.
China's state-run postal firm, EMS, and S.F. Express, Shentong Express, YTO Express, ZTO Express, Yunda, ZJS Express, Huitong, TTK Express form the group of nine companies.
Early last year, Alibaba Group said it would invest up to 30 billion yuan to build up China's fragmented logistics industry.
Alibaba Group is partially owned by Yahoo Inc. Last week the two companies reached an agreement for Yahoo to sell back some of its stake to Alibaba for $7.1 billion.