E-commerce giant Alibaba is making another big bet on brick-and-mortar, saying it will pay $2.88 billion for a 36% stake in China’s second-largest big-box retailer, Sun Art Retail Group, The Wall Street Journal reports. Alibaba, which runs the world’s largest online shopping operation, sees traditional retail venues as a way to expand its reach into fresh foods while also creating new demand for its Alipay mobile-payment business and its logistics services. “Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy,” Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said in a statement. Alibaba’s wager follows online retailer Amazon.com’s $13.7 billion purchase of U.S. grocer Whole Foods. While Amazon is competing head-on with supermarkets, Alibaba says it is focused instead on joining with retailers. Its rush into physical retail in recent years already involved investments of at least $5 billion.