Alipay, GNC Get Together for Online Shopping

August 30, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

For anyone who’s ever shopped a GNC outlet, you know there’s a lot going on there in terms of vitamins and supplements, athletics-based products, diet and energy, and more. Now, there’s just a little more going on as Alipay announced that it’s partnered with GNC to bring its payment system to the retailer’s online operations.

Now, the over 520 million Alipay users out there will be able to pick up their various muscle mass shakes, immune system enhancers and more using a familiar mobile payments system while shopping online.

GNC has reportedly had an interest in the Chinese market for some time, a development which isn’t exactly news given the sheer size and potential value of said market. Indeed, Euromonitor International LTD projects that the vitamin and supplement market in China will hit a healthy $28.7 billion by just 2021, and it’s clear GNC wants a slice of that.

Alipay’s North American president, Souheil Badran, commented “Chinese consumers value health and wellness nutritional products from the U.S. because they trust the authenticity and quality of the product. We are thrilled to partner with GNC to make purchasing health and nutrition products easier and more accessible than ever for the Chinese consumer.”

While it’s interesting enough on the surface that GNC and Alipay would connect like this, it’s actually a bit more surprising that Alipay would throw in with a foreign firm like this. After all, you’d think there would be enough hometown favorites interested in hooking up with Alipay; even Alibaba itself has a health subsidiary, Alibaba Health.

Alibaba Health actually purchased the nutritional supplement vendor management unit of parent company Alibaba back in May. It could be that Alibaba is hedging its bets here somewhat, throwing in with a competitor that has much greater name recognition while at the same time offering vendor management services to other firms.

That’s strictly speculative, of course, but it’s clear that Alipay, and by extension Alibaba, is looking to a greater future in the supplements market. It’s not immediately clear if the numbers back this, but there’s no doubt GNC will be happy with a new market pool of several hundred million customers to reach.