China’s e-commerce giant is stepping up its heated rivalry with bricks-and-mortar retailers with the launch of a five-story home furnishings showroom in Beijing. Alibaba Group’s Taobao, an Internet platform through which an estimated 3 per cent of all retail sales in China pass, opened the showroom on last Friday for customers to try out sofas, tables and other big-ticket items before placing an order online with one of its merchants. The mall is a new intrusion into the territory of China’s real-world retailers by e-commerce rivals that are growing so fast some suggest they could become the country’s leading retail force — its version of Wal Mart. “The dominant retailer in China someday may be an online retailer,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Ji.