On January 11, 2019, Alibaba Group held the first-ever Alibaba ONE Business Conference – 2019 Global New Retail Summit in Hangzhou, China. In the summit, Alibaba unveiled its A100 Strategic Partnership Program (A100 Program). According to its official release, the A100 Program would intensify the cooperation degree with business partners, recognize most efficient and sustainable returns and help partners in their digital transition process.
Alibaba, as one of the largest business ecosystems in China, has reshaped Chinese life tremendously and thoroughly. In the beginning, the public perception of it might only be a Chinese version of e-Bay, but now it has grown to a much more complicate corporate than e-Bay. Alibaba, as an integrated business partner, is able to provide tech infrastructure construction, digitalized marketing strategy, mobile pay, e-commerce and so on. The digitalized business solution is able to be fulfilled within Alibaba’s ecosystem.
The new retail has become the trend in China and Alibaba can be regarded as the KOL (key opinion leader) of such area since it was rooted in an e-commerce background and has grown to today’s size with complex inner structure. Alibaba has invested frequently in the new retail area such as Xiaohongshu, Suning, Lazada, Fresh Hema etc. For instance, Xiaohongshu, as a new retail subject, is a UGC (user-generated content) community and proving B2C services, which emphasizes comment/review-oriented selling with more accurate and efficient customer conversion rate. The new form and business model of e-commerce or physical retail have become capital-chasing. Besides Alibaba, other giants are aggressively invading new retail area like JD.com-backed 7 Fresh and Yonghui-backed Super Species (超级物种), which are strong competitors for Alibaba’s Fresh Hema (盒马鲜生). Besides e-commerce-rooted giant and traditional retail giants, tech companies also want a bite from the new retail cake. Tencent, as a tech company who has made numerous successful products like Wechat and Arena of Valor (王者荣耀), has started to actively involve in new retail, which it called Smart Retail (智慧零售).
It is understandable for e-commerce background companies to push new retail, like Alibaba and JD.com, as the new retail could reshape and bring a brighter and more profitable future for retail. These companies have rich experience in retail operation and years of accumulations in supply chains and logistics network. With digital-driven or we-called data-driven techs, e-commerce background companies are more powerful in the incoming retail reformation. But if a tech company wants to get involved in such an area, without building a distribution channel, its technologies will be difficult to land in retail, not even mention new retail. Tencent is definitely aware of the fact and it has the ground to land its years-accumulated technologies. Tencent is an investor of JD.com, and hence JD.com might be one of its channels to land its technologies to achieve the Smart Retail goal.
The retail is facing a great change, which is thrilling and exciting for not only the participants but also we bystanders. Alibaba, as a company with the biggest e-commerce body and most mobile pay users, is leading the change of the whole retail industry.