In competition with Alibaba, significantly increased its investment in new retail stores, logistics, technology and R&D, resulting in its slowest ever revenue growth and lower-than-expected net profit in the first quarter of 2018, The Paper reported.

The company’s net profit for continuing operations attributable to ordinary shareholders in Q1 reached 1.047 billion yuan ($US164 million). Though it has achieved profit for eight consecutive quarters, it was lower than analysts’ expectations.

Meanwhile, its net income for the quarter reached 100.1 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion), a rise of 33.1% from a year earlier. However, it is the slowest growth in the company’s history.

Compared to its major competitor during the same period, Alibaba’s revenue increased 61% year-on-year, totalling 61.93 billion yuan.

It is worth noting that has began to exert more effort in frontier areas, such as artificial intelligence and big data, recruiting top caliber international tech talent.

Its investment in R&D continued to increase to 2.4 billion yuan, a rise of 87.2%.