The Silicon Valley-based mobile messaging app Tango has launched a new in-app shopping feature called Tango Shop. The service will be powered by retail giant Wal-Mart and e-commerce behemoth Alibaba. Tango said the service would initially be available in the United States. In March 2014, Alibaba led a $280 million funding round in Tango, which valued the U.S. messaging app at $1 billion.
Tango aims to become a P2P marketplace
Tango Shop will allow users to browse and purchase goods from Wal-Mart and Alibaba’s AliExpress. The feature will be available as a new tab at the bottom of the Tango app. Wal-Mart and Alibaba will handle payments and logistics, while Tango will take a cut of each transaction. The start-up boasts of 300 million users. Its app allows photo sharing, video chats and casual games.
Chi-Chao Chang, VP of Tango Labs, told TechCrunch that the company aims to become a marketplace for peer-to-peer selling. Alibaba has missed the mobile messaging revolution in China, which is dominated by Tencent’s WeChat. The Hangzhou-based company is now pouring money into international messaging services. Earlier this year, Alibaba invested $200 million in Snapchat in a deal that valued Snapchat at $15 billion.
Tango a hope for both Wal-Mart and Alibaba
Tango Shop also allows users to create and share personalized catalogs with their friends. Tango’s partnership with Wal-Mart and Alibaba comes at a time when e-commerce is increasingly shifting to mobile. About 50% of all e-commerce transactions in the U.S. are done via mobile devices. It offers Wal-Mart a chance to gain a foothold in online retail, which is dominated by Amazon.
For Alibaba, it’s yet another opportunity to crack the U.S. market. The Chinese company is betting on a number of U.S. start-ups including ride-hailing service Lyft and e-commerce platform ShopRunner. Earlier this year, Alibaba secretly invested in Jet.com, which is seen as the most formidable competitor to Amazon. Last week, Alibaba disclosed in an SEC filing that it had hiked its stake in Zulily to 9.3%.
Alibaba shares inched up 0.43% to $87.14 in pre-market trading Wednesday.