Ma urges to push for ‘Five Big New Trends’

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

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd an­nounced on Tues­day the es­tab­lish­ment of a spe­cial com­mit­tee to in­te­grate re­sources and over­see the emerg­ing con­sump­tion trends of new re­tail, new man­u­fac­tur­ing, new finance, new tech­nol­ogy and new en­ergy.

The new com­mit­tee, which the com­pany said “has pulled in un­prece­dented forces”, un­der­lies its am­bi­tion to ad­dress the growth rate slow­down in pure on­line shop­ping, take bolder steps to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the re­tail land­scape, and se­cure the gi­gan­tic eco-sys­tem it has built thus far.

The com­mit­tee will in­clude top-tier ex­ec­u­tives from Alibaba, with CEO Daniel Zhang lead­ing, and Eric Jing, head of pay­ment af­fil­i­ate Ant Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group, as vice-chair. Other mem­bers in­clude key fig­ures across its lo­gis­tics arm Cainiao, cloud com­put­ing unit AliCloud, and the Tmall and Taobao mar­ket­places.

In a news re­lease, the com­pany said it would pour mas­sive re­sources into har­ness­ing what Alibaba founder Jack Ma has called the “Five Big New Trends”, which are set to sweep all in­dus­tries.

“The ‘Five Big New Trends’ will give im­pe­tus to all as­pects of the com­pany and pro­mote China’s con­sump­tion up­grade,” Ma said in an open let­ter to his em­ploy­ees.

The de­ci­sion re­flects a con­certed ef­fort to re­vamp re­tail af­ter Alibaba com­pleted a string of buy­outs of phys­i­cal stores, in­clud­ing InTime Re­tail Group and Bail­ian Group. It aims to pre­serve the fun and feel of shop­ping for buy­ers, while let­ting re­tail­ers col­late the big data that en­able them to sell more goods, more quickly and more prof­itably.

Its lat­est en­deavor to in­tro­duce in­creas­ingly im­mer­sive and dig­i­tally-en­hanced shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences is ex­em­pli­fied in a cashier-less cof­fee shop un­veiled over the week­end in Hangzhou, where fa­cial recog­ni­tion, QR code scan­ning and dig­i­tal pay­ment tech­nolo­gies al­low for the re­moval of the hu­man el­e­ment from the store.

The pro­to­type opens up the op­por­tu­nity for small busi­ness own­ers to run AI-backed off­line shops and help shop­pers avoid the mun­dane process of queu­ing up to pay, CEO Zhang said.

Cus­tomers want­ing to use un­manned stores have to reg­is­ter their mo­bile phones and pay­ment ac­counts, and that means ev­ery trans­ac­tion can be recorded and the data can be used for marketing and ad­ver­tis­ing pur­poses, said Matthew Crabbe, Asia-Pa­cific re­search di­rec­tor of con­sul­tancy Min­tel.

“While this type of store will take some time for any tech­ni­cal glitches to be ironed out, it is likely to be part of the fu­ture of re­tail­ing,” he said.

The trend of new man­u­fac­tur­ing, fo­cus­ing on cus­tomiza­tion and pro­duc­tion on de­mand, was also ex­hib­ited at the Taobao Maker Fes­ti­val which started on Sun­day, with ven­dors born in the 1990s sell­ing a wide range of unique prod­ucts, such as bags made out of re­cy­cled pack­ing ma­te­ri­als.

The ‘Five Big New Trends’ will give im­pe­tus to all as­pects of the com­pany.” Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder

LI ZHONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A wo­man demon­strates a head dec­o­ra­tion at the Taobao Maker Fes­ti­val 2017, which opened on Satur­day in Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

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