Tencent (0700.HK), China’s largest internet company with more than 700 million registered users, will launch an e-commerce platform next month that will integrate its popular social networking services with online shopping services, the Financial Times reported. Other online retailers will be invited to establish flagship stores on the platform, called QQ Buy. Analysts said the new approach could help Tencent close the yawning gap between itself and Alibaba Group, China’s dominant player in the e-commerce market. Tencent already operates a marketplace for consumer-to-consumer trade, called Paipai, and the business-to-consumer service QQ Mall, but both lag behind Alibaba’s services. The new platform is part of Tencent’s strategy to expand into e-commerce, social media, online search and online security, a diversification that may help the company stay ahead of rivals but is also pushing down profit margins.