‘Com­mu­nity com­merce’ takes root

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Trans­ac­tion value has be­come sec­ondary for video blog­gers and news feeds as “com­mu­nity com­merce” took cen­ter stage dur­ing this year’s an­nual shop­ping ex­trav­a­ganza on the Taobao plat­form.

Al­ibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd re­gards mom-and-pop mer­chants as the best fit to fos­ter per­sonal ties among on­line buy­ers, push­ing the e-com­merce gi­ant to­ward its longheld yet un­met goal for so­cial me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment.

In the lead-up to and dur­ing the Dec 12 sales gala, more than 5,000 live streams were broad­cast daily on Taobao, at­tract­ing more than 10 mil­lion view­ers on top­ics from fash­ion trends to cook­ing tips, ac­cord­ing to com­pany data.

Around 40 per­cent of the view­ers end up vis­it­ing the on­line shops be­ing pro­moted.

Th­ese are all part of Al­ibaba’s drive to build a con­sol­i­dat- ed on­line ecosys­tem en­cap­su­lat­ing e-com­merce, mo­bile me­dia and dig­i­tal en­ter­tain­ment, said CEO Daniel Zhang.

“Through user-gen­er­ated con­tent, we want peo­ple to see Taobao more as the lat­est re­flec­tion of the main­stream life­style of the younger gen­er­a­tion,” he said.

Other ef­forts in­clude a Q&A col­umn Wen Da­jia (ask others), a Quora-like fea­ture where ques­tions are raised, an­swered and edited by the com­mu­nity of Taobao users. On Dec 12, more than 5 mil­lion users asked ques­tions and some 10 mil­lion gave their feed­back.

Based on their shop­ping habits, the site en­cour­ages users to pro­vide sug­ges­tions to peers on cer­tain mer­chan­dise. It then fil­ters and redi­rects users into groups with tags such as work­out, preg­nancy and cos­met­ics.

Chen Lei, a Taobao di­rec­tor who over­sees live stream­ing for the site, said Taobao is geared to­ward pro­fes­sion­ally gen­er­ated con­tent.

“In the fu­ture, Taobao will con­tinue to lead mer­chants, highly en­gaged users and live broad­cast pro­fes­sion­als to cre­ate a con­sump­tion-ori­ented live broad­cast­ing plat­form,” he said.

By blend­ing e-com­merce and so­cial me­dia, Al­ibaba has tried to shed the im­age of be­ing a gi­ant only in e-com­merce, said Li Chao from iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group.

While oc­cu­py­ing only a small por­tion of the pie, Taobao, which res­onated well among Chi­nese young­sters, helped Al­ibaba more than dou­ble its mo­bile rev­enue in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2016.

“The level of en­gage­ment Al­ibaba is able to cre­ate is be­yond what we con­sider with search com­pa­nies and so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies. They’re in­vest­ing a lot in mak­ing their tools have so­cial en­gage­ment like Face­book,” Gil Luria, an an­a­lyst at Wed­bush Se­cu­ri­ties Inc said in a re­search note.

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