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Alibaba Pledges Billions to Stock China’s Kitchens, Bathrooms

  • Chinese e-commerce giant boasts deep pockets for investment
  • Consumer goods will help outmaneuver rivals in rural expansion

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. isn’t shy about taking on global giants in everything from cloud computing to video streaming. Now, it’s shifting its take-no-prisoners approach to everything from soap to toothpaste.

The company that trounced Ebay Inc. in China has identified fast-moving consumer goods -- think cereal, TV dinners or detergent -- as pivotal to its drive to expand service in the countryside. Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu vowed to outspend competitors by the billions when it comes to pushing the essential products that people use every day. That poses a direct challenge to Inc., which specializes in selling electronics but is now also targeting demand for household items.

“We are pretty much sure that we are going to further invest because we have that luxury,” Wu told analysts on a post-earnings conference call. “While the other company is talking about investing a billion dollars, we are willing to invest multi-times of that number.”

Wu threw down the gauntlet minutes after China’s largest online bazaar reported its fastest pace of...