Mom-and-pops have given mixed reviews about the impact Ling Shou Tong has had on their bottom line so far. Some say the storefront decorations and in-store training accompanying the platform’s adoption provides a cosmetic facelift to their stores and makes running them easier. Others worry that relying on Alibaba’s product selection forces them to directly compete with the convenience of online shopping.

Even with the mixed reception, Alibaba’s push to widely install Ling Shou Tong has proven to be wildly successful. The company employs some 2,000 “foot soldiers,” paid by commission, to convince independent store owners to adopt the platform, Reuters reports. And ahead of last year’s Singles Day—an annual online shopping bonanza on Nov. 11 that dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday—Alibaba’s platform was installed on the computer systems of 10%, or 600,000, of China’s mom-and-pops, according to the company. The stores helped Alibaba with Singles-Day logistics and played a big role, according to analysts, in boosting the company’s day-of sales to $25.3 billion, an extraordinary 40% increase (paywall) from Singles Day sales in 2016, and a new record.

Alibaba’s rivals are also aggressively trying to transform China’s physical retail space. This week,, China’s second-largest online retailer, opened a chain of high-tech supermarkets in Beijing and the first of a series of unmanned convenience stores in Shandong province. Like Alibaba, JD intends to use its brick-and-mortar presence to both reach new customers and collect data on their shopping behaviors.

Alibaba remains unique in its strategy to utilize the millions of mom-and-pop shops that often serve populations, like those in rural areas, its hasn’t yet reached through its online platforms. “We’re working to make the net in the sky and the net on the ground,” Alibaba’s chief executive Daniel Zhang said last year of the company’s goals. “We will cover all consumers seamlessly.”

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