Alibaba: the Eastern E-commerce Giant

Alibaba is the largest online trading company in China, and arguably the world. It consists of three key e-commerce sites: Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com. It has billions of customers, and millions of businesses trading on the sites. In fact, Alibaba handles more business than any other e-commerce company. 

When we think about e-commerce, the names “Amazon” or “eBay” often come to mind. But did you know that trades on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites were more than that of eBay and Amazon combined? 

Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com was Jack Ma’s premier e-commerce site. Its purpose was to allow Chinese manufacturers and foreign businesses to interact and build relations. When it just started, it was merely an online lounge of sorts for businesses to network with each other. In fact, most of the actual deals and negotiations were made offline. 

Taobao

Alibaba then transitioned from a Business-to-Business (B2B) focus to a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) one. Along that line, Taobao and Tmall were launched in 2003 and 2006 respectively. What was interesting was that this transition was meant to protect their B2B sectors against competition from eBay. However, coincidentally, these businesses skyrocketed, attracting millions of consumers. Given China’s huge population and growing levels of wealth, consumer spending on these e-commerce platforms increased at previously unimagined speed. 

Jack Ma: the man behind Alibaba

Jack Ma is a unique leader with uncommon qualities. He’s often known as Alibaba’s “spiritual” leader. His creative ideas and willingness to take risks make him innovative and irreplaceable. Even after he retired as CEO of the company, Alibaba’s leadership mechanism still ensures that Mr Ma has a say in who will be in Alibaba’s board. 

Here are some interesting facts about Jack Ma, the man behind Alibaba. He was one of the first people in China to successfully connect to Wifi. In a period when most of China was disconnected from the internet or did not even know it existed, Jack Ma sensed that it was the future. 

You may expect the man behind Alibaba to be well-versed in computer science and technology. Interestingly, he has little knowledge in these areas. He can’t even code! In an interview in 2010, Ma expressed that all he could do on the computer was surf the net and send emails. 

Going mobile-friendly

Alibaba’s success has not made the company complacent. It is ever adapting to changing consumer needs. 

Alibaba created the Alibaba.com mobile app to adapt. With a simple input in the search bar of your desired product, the app will show you choices from China and all over the globe. The app remembers your previous purchases and personal preferences. The results you see are catered just for you. Users can also compare the ratings and customer feedback of the various suppliers to find your best option.

Perhaps the most innovative part of the app is that you can use your smartphone to take a picture of a product you like. The app will automatically search for something similar for you. 

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