Alibaba enables growth for small businesses
Interview with David Lloyd – Managing Director, UK, Ireland & Nordics, Alibaba Group
Alibaba’s aim is to create an ecosystem that is beneficial for all parties. By giving small business around the globe an opportunity to expand their selling markets, they are not only catalysts for new businesses, but also help companies grow, thereby creating new jobs all around the world.
What is the key to Alibaba’s great success?
“A number of factors have brought us to where we are today. One important factor is the vision and strategy of our leadership team, particularly that of our founder Jack Ma, which permeates the entire organisation. With our drive to champion small businesses by creating an ecosystem where all participants – consumers, merchants, third party service providers and others – have a chance to prosper, we have managed to continuously grow our business. Another important key to our success is Alibaba’s innovative ability and drive to push the boundaries, for example, moving into new areas like digital entertainment, AI, and cloud computing, while also developing the ‘infrastructure of trade’ – logistics, payments and so on – to ensure that doing business cross-border is easy for businesses everywhere. However, perhaps most important of all is our humility – we never take success for granted and always work just as hard as we did back in 1999 when we were founded”.
How do you see your expansion affecting the global retail market?
“Positively. Our aim is to create an ecosystem that is beneficial for all parties in line with our mission to make it easy to do business anywhere. We seek to expand globally to offer merchants around the world an opportunity to expand their presence in new markets, and to give consumers a greater choice and variety. By giving small business around the globe an opportunity to expand their selling markets, we are not only catalysts for new businesses but also help companies grow, thereby creating new jobs all around the world”.
How do you think that retail will have developed during a five years period?
“‘New Retail’, a term coined by us, has already had a huge impact on the retail landscape in China and will continue to do so. By merging online and offline retailing, such as digital shelf price tags — allowing merchants to adjust prices quickly and easily according to actual demand, as well as offering better data on inventory and sales trends – retail can be transformed.
The most impressive demonstration of the power of New Retail to date was at last year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. Now the biggest single shopping event in the world by a substantial margin, last year’s event not only generated record breaking revenues of $25.4bn, but crucially enabled the brands taking part to engage with their customers in many different innovative and immersive ways that help to build their brands, too. Two key pillars of New Retail is how we work with offline merchants to help digitally transform their businesses so that they can provide a more tailored shopping experience for their customers and how we respond to Chinese consumers who see shopping as a social activity and, ultimately, a form of entertainment.
We also see the challenges for cross-border trade melting away. Technological innovation and new business models offer brands and entrepreneurs ready-made solutions that manage all the back-end processes – literally making international expansion available with the click of a button.
And thirdly, we see huge opportunities for small businesses. Our ecosystem was originally created to support small and medium businesses, and SMEs are still our lifeblood. What is so exciting is that we can say to brands and retailers that they are coming to a place where hundreds of millions of Chinese customers already shop and where they can take advantage of our ecosystem which includes logistics, cloud services, marketing and payments, amongst others. It is truly exciting to see how many companies are taking advantage of these new opportunities – and how technology is levelling the playing field between brands big and small”.