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The largest ecommerce platform in the world

Alibaba is one of the largest online- and e-commerce businesses in the world, and could be seen as the Amazon of China. The company was founded in 1999 by the former English teacher Jack Ma. Their primary business is offering a digital marketplace where consumers and merchants can connect and buy and sell from each other. Furthermore, the company is expanding into other segments such as cloud computing and digital media and entertainment. They also follow the transformational idea of reinventing the worlds of retail, logistics and payment, in a never ending process, and could be seen as a data focused conglomerate with large amounts of transaction data, coming from their e-commerce platforms, fintech services, and logistics businesses.

They own two of the most visited online platforms in China: Taobao, the C2C market beast with similarities to eBay, and Tmall which is a niche company, operating a B2C market. The company has also, as mentioned, diversified into new rapidly growing industries, with cloud services, logistics, and entertainment. The company has seven main business segments, these are:

  • China Commerce: Mainly retail businesses such as Taobao, Tmall, Alibaba Health and Sun Art. International Commerce: Primarily Lazada, AliExpress, Daraz and

  • Local Consumer Services: Location based services such as, an on demand delivery platform; Amap, a map and navigation provider; Fliggy, an online travel platform; and Taoxianda, which help retailers open online stores.

  • Cainiao: Their logistics gateway which coordinates external logistics suppliers. It enables companies to work seamlessly with efficient logistics, making their vision of under 24 hours fulfilling of consumers orders in China and under 72 hours anywhere else in the world realizable.

  • Cloud services: Including database, storage, network virtualization, security, management and application, big data analytics, and other services.

  • Digital Media and Entertainment: Including Youku (similar to Youtube); Alibaba Pictures, with content production, promotion and distribution; and their other content platforms and online game business.

  • Innovation initiatives and others: IoT related smart home appliances, including smart speakers, lights, and remote controls.

Fun fact: As part of their vision, they aspire to be a great company that will last for 102 years, why 102 you may ask? When they were founded in 1999, they set the goal to stay in business over 3 centuries - 1999 + 102 = 2101. This signifies their long-term perspective and commitment to sustainable development.

The Rockstar Founder

In China, back in 1999, the internet barely existed, however, that’s the year Jack Ma founded Alibaba. It was during a visit to the US, the founder first experienced the complexity of the new technology and understood what possibilities it would bring to China. Jack Ma and his companies have shaped digital china like no other. In the early years, Ma supposedly applied for 31 different jobs and was rejected by every single one, the Yum Brands owned, fast food chain KFC being one of them, saying he wasn't good enough.

When he first encountered the internet, his first search, funny enough, was for beer, and to his surprise there was a lot of information related to beer from many countries, but none from China. This was also the case for general information about China - there was none. This led him into creating a website related to China and within hours, he got calls from investors who wanted to get to know him. Apart from being a businessman, investor, philanthropist and a global ambassador for Chinese business with big influence on the startup community, Ma has also been active in the entertainment industry. He made his acting debut in 2017, starring in the kung fu short film Gong Shou Dao. He's also performed dances and singing during Alibaba’s 18th-anniversary party.

Seamless payment solutions with Alipay

Alipay is an online and mobile payments service which was founded in 2004 by Alibaba Group. It has grown to be one of the most popular mobile payments platforms in the world, and is primarily used by Chinese consumers. The service is used through smartphones with the Alipay Wallet app. In store payments are made using QR code, the app also provides features such as credit card bill payments, bank account managements, P2P transfer, bus and train ticket purchases, food orders, and a digital identification document storage. They also make online payments possible on most Chinese-based websites, for example Taobao and Tmall.

Since 2018, Alipay has collaborated with Norwegian Vipps, which is a payments platform making mobile payments frictionless, Sweden also has an equivalent service called Swish. Several retail companies, hotel chains and restaurants, for example, C-STORE, Qishiduo, 7-Eleven, and Beijing taxi drivers, accept Alipay payments, which simplifies payments for travelers in China. To offer Alipay, merchants can sign up directly with the service, alternatively through another payments service company, connected to the service.

Single's day Shopping

Single's day is a gigantic shopping event, occurring every year on the 11th of November, celebrating singles and motivating them to shop, and has grown to be a tradition for Alibaba and their customers. It was originally, at Nanjing University back in the 1990s, a protest against Valentine's day, celebrating singles, a concept that soon spread rapidly in China. From celebrating singles, singles day today is one of the days where the largest amount of shopping in the world is done, regardless of relationship status.

The day often overtrumps Black Friday in shopping online, and Alibaba is the most popular e-commerce platform to spend the day on. The day is usually celebrated by spending time with friends, or, as Alibaba prefers, browsing online in the search for good deals.

Alibaba is listed in our Explore category "Platforms".

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