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Jack Ma presenting Alibaba's new smart car to the world. Source: Tech In Asia

Jack Ma presenting Alibaba’s new smart car to the world. Source: Tech In Asia

Alibaba has unveiled its first smart car, a collaborative project between Alibaba and Chinese auto manufacturer, SAIC, reports Tech In Asia. The smart car, CarOS Roewe RX5, was introduced by founder Jack Ma to the Chinese Press in Hongzhou on July 6. Dr. Wang Jian, Chairman of Alibaba’s Technology Steering Committee comments,

We are creating a ‘car on the internet’. Smart operating systems become the second engine of cars, while data is the new fuel. 

The car will leverage Alibaba’s various ecommerce functions in order to help drivers search for every day things such as parking spaces and gas stations.

Drivers will be able to make e-payments through Alipay, Alibaba’s electronic payment system. The car will assign a unique ID for each driver and be able to make recommendations on things such as music and restaurants.

Drivers will also be able to take selfies with a detachable 360-degree camera that comes with the car.

 

The cost of an RX5 will start at $22,300 and is available for preorder on Tmall; more than 100 people have already signed up.

The cost of an RX5 will start at $22,300 and is available for preorder on Tmall; more than 100 people have already signed up.

Alibaba is aiming to place itself in the center of car-based data services, as well as enable other companies and third party services to bring new innovations to its new platform. Using a smart car as a new platform for the company’s services moves past mobile restrictions and internet based services and introduces drivers to Alipay. They will be able to use internet and navigation services without getting out of the vehicle.

According to Your Story, the launch of RX5 has placed Alibaba ahead of companies such as Google, which has not yet released a commercial car product despite making headway in the sector.

No words on how the car performs in terms of driving experience as the RX5 is expected to be delivered to owners in August.

A version of this article appeared in Tech In Asia on July 7. Read the full article here.

Mars partners with Alibaba

Some of the key brands under Mars. Inc, Source: Daily Mail

Mars Inc, the company that produces iconic candy bars such as Mars Bars, M&Ms and Maltesers, is the latest global consumer food brand to partner with Alibaba, according to Alizila.

The partnership will see all of Mars’ products be made available through Alibaba’s online marketplaces, Tmall.com and Taobao. In an effort to grow the company’s online presence in China, Mars will also leverage Alibaba’s marketing and data capabilities to drive engagement with local consumers and use Alibaba’s logistics network.

Many of Mars’ products are already selling on Tmall, including Wringley’s flagship online store which launched in 2009. However, this official partnership will give consumers access to an ‘international one-stop shopping experience’ through Alibaba’s  platforms directly benefiting China’s rural consumers gaining them access to international products online. Cecilia Li, Vice President and Managing Director of Wringley China comments,

China’s younger generation is the new driving force of consumption, they rely on ecommerce.

Global brands such as Unilever and Hershey’s are also leveraging Alibaba’s various platforms to break into China. Alibaba offers more than just a virtual shelf and instead pairs brands with local logistics services and marketing tailored specifically to Chinese consumers. The nature of these partnerships highlight the importance in finding local partners when global brands enter a foreign market. Alibaba not only facilitates the ecosystem for these brands but also offer an inside ‘know how’.

A version of this appeared in Alizila on June 29. Read the full article here.

Alibaba to empower Thai fruit farmers through Tmall

Mango is a very popular fruit among Chinese consumers. Source: funnelogychannel.com

Following Alibaba’s 20% stake in Thailand’s True Corporation branch Ascend Money, the company is now planning to leverage from True Corporation’s Parent Company, CP Group, to offer Thai fruits on Tmall, Alibaba’s B2C marketplace.

Chinese marketplace Tmall currently owns 61% of the B2C ecommerce market share, the site attracts over 1 million shoppers and 150 million browsers visiting daily.

This new business aims to promote Alibaba services in Thailand, leveraging Chinese consumers’ preference for Thai fresh produce and encourage more Thai fruit produces to move online.

Nopporn Swaddhonphisut, Managing Director of Thai Fruit 1975 Co.Ltd, one of the companies on Tmall for the last two years, said there is a lot of cross border sales potential on the site.

On average, Thai Fruit 1975 makes approximately $11,4000 monthly, as shoppers prefer buying bulk quantities of mango and durian online; buying imported fruit off the street is more expensive for shoppers. This partnership is effective as Tmall eliminates the middle man and allows shoppers to deal directly with the owner of the fruit plantation. Local Chinese logistics providers can also partner with Thai companies for delivery to ease the fulfillment process.

Selling through Tmall is a way for companies to expand beyond the local market.

A version of this appeared in Prachachat Online on July 1. Read the full article here.

Nestle brand commerce strategy with Alibaba

The Swiss company yesterday kicked off the six-month campaign by launching 67 products on Tmall.com, Alibaba’s leading B2C online-shopping site, that have never been available in China before, including Nido milk powder from the Netherlands, Nestlé Damak chocolate from Turkey, Nescafé Gold from France, and Nestlé and Wyeth infant nutrition products from Switzerland, the U.K. and Germany. The three-day Super Brand Day promotion features discounts on a total of 154 products from 30 Nestlé brands.

Other marketing activities Nestlé has planned in the months ahead will showcase its brands to Chinese customers countrywide via what Alibaba calls its “ecommerce media ecosystem,” a growing digital marketing network encompassing social, mobile and web-based media outlets.

Nestle Brand Commerce Strategy With Alibaba is Aggressive

For example, Nestlé marketing will be featured prominently on popular video programs on Alibaba Group’s Youku Tudou video streaming site, one of China’s top online video platforms. The campaign includes a Nestlé video that can be viewed on virtual reality headsets, marking the first time Youku Tudou has worked with a brand partner on a virtual reality campaign in China. Starting in August, Nestlé also plans to feature its products on Alibaba’s Tmall Country Pavilions.

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said his company is combining digital media with data on consumer behavior to enable multinationals like Nestlé to undergo a “digital transformation,” building their brands and managing customer relationships in innovative new ways. “We will continue to expand on our partnerships and infrastructure to deliver access to the widest selection of the best products from around the world to consumers,” Zhang said in a statement, “whether they live in Beijing or a rural village in the farthest edges of the country.”

Nestlé is basing its upcoming China campaign on its 150thanniversary. The company launched its first Tmall virtual store in 2008 and has 14 flagship outlets on the platform.

Faced with disappointing growth in China recently, Nestlé is focusing on ecommerce to help jumpstart sales, according to aBloomberg story. Nestlé’s ecommerce business is growing at triple-digit rates in China and is more profitable than sales in physical stores, according to Bloomberg.

Read the full story on the Alizila blog, written by Jim Erickson.