Alibaba said Thursday it will host a one-day event in Toronto focused on offering education and advice for Canadian businesses looking to tap into the growing demand from China’s consumers for high-quality imports and international tourism experiences.
Gateway Canada follows Alibaba’s Gateway ’17 conference in Detroit, which drew 3000 U.S. small businesses and entrepreneurs this past June. The Toronto event will take place on Sept. 25 at Enercare Centre, with sessions designed for Canadian companies, entrepreneurs, agribusinesses, and the travel and hospitality industry about tapping the rapidly growing demand among Chinese consumers for imported products and international tourism experiences. Alibaba Executive Chairman and Founder Jack Ma will deliver a keynote address.
Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in category breakout sessions focused on Chinese consumer trends, business-solution sessions and networking opportunities. They will also learn about how Alibaba’s online travel marketplace and payment solutions can help Canadian businesses serve China’s rapidly expanding outbound travel and tourism market.
“Canada’s high-quality products, fresh food and travel experiences are highly sought-after by China’s large and growing middle class population who are looking online for the best products and experiences around the world. Modern China has the potential to be a big opportunity for Canadian businesses of all sizes. At Gateway Canada in Toronto we will talk about the bright future of opportunity between China and Canada,” said Ma.
Alibaba expects to attract about 500 businesses from across Canada to the event.
Alibaba President Michael Evans elaborated on that opportunity in this open letter welcoming fellow Canadian businesspeople to attend Gateway Canada:
Dear Fellow Canadians,
Canada has so much to offer the world—from the seafood in our crystal-clear waters, to amazing agricultural products you can’t find anywhere else, innovative, active lifestyle apparel brands like Lululemon or Roots and a warm, open environment for visitors to our shores. I grew up in Toronto and now work at Alibaba. Canadian products and experiences are some of the most sought-after in China and around the world. In fact, China represents one of the biggest opportunities Canadian business has ever seen.
Here’s why. China’s large and fast growing middle class is expected to exceed 600 million people in 5 years, which is larger than the total population of North America. Last year, China became the world’s largest retail market, with spending topping US$4.84 trillion. By next year, China’s online spending will be greater than the rest of the world combined. And Chinese consumers are looking for the high-quality products and travel experiences that Canada offers.
At Alibaba, we can help you take advantage of this growing appetite for consumption through our robust ecosystem of businesses that spans e-commerce marketplaces, with more than 500 million active users; electronic settlements, with fast, low-cost payments; and logistics, which ensures products are delivered seamlessly and efficiently, all underpinned by one of the leading global cloud technology infrastructures.
We are a company dedicated to making it easier for everyone to do business anywhere. Today, we operate the world’s largest online marketplace with more than US$500 billion in sales across our platforms. Think of us as a virtual mall with nearly half-a-billion shoppers buying from sellers who operate their own online storefronts. We are already a gateway for thousands of global brands and retailers as well as millions of small businesses who sell to Chinese consumers. And, we want to be the gateway for Canadian businesses to tap into the China consumer opportunity.
On September 25 at Enercare Centre in Toronto, Alibaba will host Gateway Canada, where we will explain the China consumption opportunity and show participants how to access it through Alibaba.
You’ll hear practical stories from brands already doing business with China and learn about the vast potential for business success in tapping China’s middle class consumers. Fresh foods are especially coveted. For example, 90,000 Canadian lobsters were sold through our platform on a single day during one of Alibaba’s annual promotions.
For our friends in the travel and hospitality sectors, we welcome you to learn about our online travel marketplace, Fliggy, a gateway to Canada for Chinese tourists, hosting a broad range of merchants, travel products and services. And we’ll introduce you to Alipay, our online payments solution that makes it easy for its 520 million Chinese consumers to pay for anything, no matter where they are in the world.
Canadian brands—Arc’teryx, Jamieson, Aldo, SunRype, Clearwater and many others—are well known to China’s rapidly expanding middle class. Hundreds of Canadian brands already sell their products through our e-commerce platforms to Chinese consumers seeking premium seafood, packaged food and beverages, fashion and apparel, health supplements, and mother and baby products.
And, Canada, with an ethnic Chinese population of 1.6 million and a vibrant Chinese culture, is highly regarded as a destination for immigrants and tourists, alike. Around 600,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada last year, spending well over C$1.25 billion and supporting nearly 7,500 service-sector jobs. With 2018 designated as “Year of Canada-China Tourism,” these numbers are set to rise.
But we’re just at the beginning of this special relationship. There’s much more potential to unlock.
Alibaba can help you get your products into the hands of China’s burgeoning middle class consumer. We can help Chinese visitors to Canada access amazing travel, tourism and hospitality services and experiences.
I’m proud of my Canadian heritage and proud to work at Alibaba, where I’ve been affectionately nicknamed “Explorer”—an homage to Dr. Norman Bethune, a Canadian who did so much for Sino-Canadian relations and who remains beloved in China to this day.
I want to encourage my fellow Canadians to explore the opportunities that today’s China presents for all Canadian businesses.
J’espère que vous allez nous joindre à Toronto ce septembre.
President, Alibaba Group