Alibaba Group has undertaken a wide range of business initiatives to support consumers, partners and merchants as they retool, rebuild and recover during this challenging time. As of March 31, 2020, Alibaba and Ant Group have contributed approximately RMB3.4 billion ($476 million) in value in the form of donations, subsidies and technical support.For details on philanthropic efforts undertaken through the Alibaba Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation, please click here.
Alibaba Group Merchant Relief Programs
Rural Support Program
Alibaba launched its Rural Support Program on February 6. As part of the program, farmers can access Taobao Live – Alibaba’s livestreaming channel – at no cost and also benefit from other tools and resources offered by the Alibaba Digital Economy. Taobaoalso set up a RMB1 billion (US$144 million) fund along with 10 measures to support farmers.
20 Merchant Relief Measures
During the early stages of the outbreak in February, Alibaba leveraged its extensive digital economy to unveil 20 measures to support businesses across six major areas. These include: (1) reduced or waived platform fees, (2) low-interest and interest-free loans, (3) personnel and logistics support, (4) flexible job opportunities, (5) tools for accelerating digitization and (6) remote-work management.
Spring Thunder Initiative
On April 7, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang announced the 2020 Spring Thunder Initiative to help small and medium-sized enterprises impacted by Covid-19 around the world.
- Alipay introduced a campaign to encourage third-party developers to create mini-programs that would address users’ needs during the health crisis.
- Alipay and MYbank launched a Small Stores 2020 initiative to offer low-interest loans and digital technologies to China’s small-business owners during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Alipay shared seven ways it would aid SMEs in China facing economic hardships. The platform has committed to help 50,000 offline merchantsbring their businesses online and said it would offer free online training courses to more than 3 million people in the service industry to prepare for this digital transformation. Other measures include first-month interest-free loans to merchants in Wuhan as well as allowing merchants to source equipment and raw materials from Alibaba’s wholesale marketplace 1688 on credit.
- Ant Financial Services Group published its2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, detailing some of the company’s efforts over the past year, including those in relation to Covid-19.
- China is taking a novel approach to revive its economy, seeding digital coupons with consumers to encourage spending. As of May 20, more than 100 cities around China have issued digital coupons through Alipay.
- Taobao Live saw a sharp rise in brand activity in February as merchants resumed their operations and looked for ways to reach consumers in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
- Taobao Live announced plans to help more than 200,000 brick-and-mortar retail stores and 100 marketplaces make use of the platform this year. The platform said that its strategy for 2020 will include training to help more than 10,000 in-store staff become effective livestream hosts.
- Taobao Live announced that it would offer training to 200,000 farmers in ongoing efforts to increase business in rural areas across China. The livestreaming platform aims to generate RMB15 billion (US$2.1 billion) in agricultural sales across 16 Chinese provinces this year.
- With many popular cultural and tourist attractions closed due to Covid-19,Taobao Live launched anonline Spring Tour that brought pandas and priceless historical artifacts to audience’s phones and homes.
- Zhejiang Province tapped Taobao Live to help fishermen at Qiandao Lake bring their catch to consumers during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Taobao and MYbank extended their free advanced settlement services to the end of June. The service, which allows merchants to receive payments as soon as orders are fulfilled instead of waiting for consumers to confirm receipt of products, was introduced in early February as part of Alibaba’s 20 measures to support SMEs.
- Taobao’s recently launched a factory-centric app,Taobao Deals, and announced measures to help export manufacturers in China diversify their revenue streams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- With Taobao Live being used in ever-more-creative ways as millions stays indoors during the coronavirus outbreak, Grace Hsu – one of the creative minds at Alibaba behind the tool – talks about livestreaming’s power to bring people together.
- On International Museum Day on May 18, Alibaba rolled out a livestreaming campaign for people to explore museums and cultural heritage sites online. Museums around the world that have been forced to close during the pandemic employed Taobao Live to give virtual tours of their artefacts and exhibitions. Close to 100 museum directors and cultural gurus joined the campaign to host tours and to interact with viewers via livestream.
- Alibaba Group’s consumer-to-manufacturer model taps digital resources such as data insights and AI algorithms to help factories operate more efficiently and serve consumers more effectively. The C2M model proved especially crucial during the Covid-19 outbreak as factories across China were forced to halt productions.
- Tmall Global, Alibaba’s dedicated cross-border B2C e-commerce channel, in February rolled out a series of measures to help its merchants. These include six-month waivers on annual service fees for some merchants, free use of the platform’s online shop setup tool, reduction or exemption of warehouse rent and reduction of logistics costs and agency service fees along with lower-interest loans.
- Tmall launched its Super Consumer Growth Accelerator program to help brands and businesses hit by Covid-19. Tapping the many tools and resources within the Alibaba Digital Economy, the program aims to drive 30 billion new visits to Tmall in 2020.
- Tmall partnered with Shanghai Fashion Week to enable the world’s first virtual fashion week. The event was initially postponed due to the spread of Covid-19 but organizers worked with Tmall to bring the event online. Opening showcases on the first day attracted 2.5 million views. By the end of the event, streams had totaled over 11 million views and helped generate more than RMB20 million (US$2.82 million) in gross merchandise volume.
- Luxury fashion label Diane von Furstenberg was among the brands that participated in the first online Shanghai Fashion Week. Gabby Hirata, DVF’s head of business development for Asia-Pacific, talks about how the fashion label accelerated its digital strategy amid Covid-19.
- Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba’s dedicated platform for luxury brands, and the Richemont-owned online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter brought Geneva’s “Watches & Wonders” trade fair to Chinese shoppers via Net-a-Porter’s Pavilion store after the physical event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
- Tmall outlined plans to help beauty and personal-care brands pick up the pace of growth and digital transformation as they cope with the effects of Covid-19 on their business.
- As eco-friendly shoe brand Allbirds marked its first anniversary in China and Tmall, the company’s president of international talks about how the business leveraged technology and its omnichannel capabilities to continue sharing its message of sustainability during the pandemic.
- Covid-19 may be challenging brands and retailers across the world but those that have invested in building out digital capabilities are continuing to generate sales and engage with customers at a time when commerce has otherwise ground to a near-complete halt. From leveraging online-offline integration and consumer insights to tapping digital events and livestreaming, here’s how companies are using technology to tackle the outbreak.
- Tmall reported record-level participation from luxury brands for its 5.20 sales campaign on May 20, an unofficial romantic holiday that’s celebrated in China as the date said aloud in Mandarin sound close to “I love you.” More than 150 premium brands debuted 5,000 new products and those such as Cartier, Longines, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty and Tom Ford released special-edition gift boxes for the event.
- When the Covid-19 pandemic struck China, U.S.-based cleaning-solutions company Bissell leveraged Alibaba’s digital tools and strategies to manage disruptions and keep pace with changing consumer demands. Thanks to its agile response to the health crisis, the company saw a significant boost in online sales starting in Q1 and higher return-on-investment results across its listed products.
- On June 1, Alibaba kicked off its annual 6.18 Mid-Year Shopping Festival, which is expected to be China’s largest sales event since the outbreak of Covid-19. Within the campaign’s first 10 hours, total gross merchandise volume jumped 50% from last year. Certain industries, including cosmetics and home appliances, saw their GMV double from the previous year, per Alibaba.
- Freshippo, Alibaba’s New Retail driven grocery chain, in February bolstered the company’s efforts to bring fresh goods closer to urban consumers, allowing shoppers to place orders directly through its app and select the non-contact delivery option.
- Despite the impact of Covid-19, China’s leading department-store chain, Intime, has seen a swift recovery of its business operations thanks to its digital innovations and robust omnichannel infrastructure.
- Alizila speaks to Shang Xinyuan, one of the Ele.me delivery workers who helped keep supplies flowing in the southern city of Shenzhen during the coronavirus outbreak.
- During the pandemic, some museums have partnered with Alibaba’s on-demand delivery platform Ele.me so that consumers can conveniently shop for gift-shop items and have them delivered directly to their homes.
- In February, Alibaba.com, Alibaba Group’s cross-border B2B platform, launched aglobal business-to-business sourcing platform to speed medical supplies directly to areas in China hard-hit by the novel coronavirus. Called the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform, it served as an information bridge, matching sellers of medical supplies and their products with the needs of affected hospitals and local authorities.
- In March, Alibaba.com identified and organized high-quality suppliers of masks under a single online destination to facilitate sourcing by healthcare systems and relevant government authorities worldwide during Covid-19. The platform also pioneered a direct procurement and supply solution to help large-scale commercial buyers successfully identify and make bulk purchases of high-quality personal protective equipment. So far, it has enabled the sourcing and distribution of nearly 26 million pieces of PPE to countries outside China.
- Alibaba.com launched its first-ever Home and Health Online Trade Show. To help B2B companies overcome disruptions caused by Covid-19, the event recreates the elements of a physical trade show in an online environment.
- Alibaba.com launched B2B Today, a support initiative for small and medium-sized businesses during the Covid-19 crisis.
- In June, Alibaba.com launched three new services in the areas of logistics, payments and online exhibitions to help U.S. B2B businesses continue to trade globally during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Alibaba.com launched “Project Sprout Up,” a new initiative designed to scale up global recruitment and training efforts for businesses in the wake of Covid-19.
- Lazada, Alibaba’s flagship e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, announced a series of measures to help cross-border businesses recover from coronavirus-related disruptions to their operations. These include lowered international rates for deliveries and reduced fees forMalaysia eWTP warehouse storage.
- Aside from continuing to offer reduced freight rates for cross-border merchants, Lazada increased its number of charter flights and rolled out an incubation program that provides online training on e-commerce operations and traffic growth. Stimulus packages, which include benefits such as free access to some platform services, have also been introduced to aid local business owners in several markets.
- The e-commerce platform rolled out a series of initiatives to protect merchants and customers as well as other impacted stakeholders across Southeast Asia.
- Alibaba’s flagship e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia saw over 27 million active viewers on its LazLivelivestreaming platform last month as more brands used the tool to connect with consumers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Alibaba Health and Tmall launched a Reliable Medicine-Sourcing initiative to ensure that crucial prescription drugs can still reach what is reported to be the 300 million patients suffering from chronic illnesses across China during the coronavirus outbreak.
- For the extended Labor Day Holiday from May 1-5 in China, Alibaba’s travel-services platform Fliggy rolled out a series of measures to help the travel and hospitality industries recover from the impact of Covid-19.
- Fliggy partnered up with the tourism boards of Finland, France, Germany, Serbia and the United Kingdom to bring popular tourist attractions online to Chinese netizens. Aimed at promoting interest and confidence in overseas travel once the coronavirus pandemic passes, the Cloud Live Tourism campaign features livestreamed broadcasts of some of the most beautiful sites and destinations in Europe.
- Daraz, Alibaba’s flagship e-commerce platform in South Asia, rolled out its Seller Stimulus program, offering $500,000 in support to small and medium-sized enterprises across the region.
Digital Infrastructure and Technology
- Alibaba Cloud launched a series of AI technologies andcloud-based solutions to support companies and organizations worldwide in the fight against Covid-19. Alibaba Cloud also opened up itscomputational platformto worldwide research groups and institutions who are working on vaccine development.
- Alibaba Cloud announced that it would invest an additional RMB200 billion (US$28 billion) into its infrastructure in a bid to help businesses embrace digital technology and recover from coronavirus-related disruptions. The division also launched a Global SME Enablement Program, offering more than US$30 million in cloud-technology support to small and medium-sized enterprises.
- In early February, DAMO Academy developed an AI-enabled system that could diagnose Covid-19 in 20 seconds with 96% accuracy. The algorithm has been trained with data and CT scans from more than 5,000 confirmed coronavirus cases so far and taps into deep learning to study patterns of infection.
- To speed up the process of identifying Covid-19, DAMO Academy launched an AI-enabled genome-sequencing technology that can simultaneously diagnose 20 people within 14 hours.
- DingTalk launched various features to enable instant communication and remote teamwork. These include video conferencing, livestreaming for over 300 participants, cloud-based document editing and approval and daily health surveys for employees. These features were made available for free to over 200 million workers from more than 10 million companies and organizations.
- DingTalk launched an Online Classroom initiative to provide schools with free digital tools, such as livestreaming and online testing and grading features.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized DingTalk as a powerfuldigital-learning solution to help children continue their education as schools worldwide face closures due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
- In January, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network teamed up with industry partners to launch its Green Channel – a global logistics initiative that expedites the delivery of medical-aid donations to areas in China hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
- Cainiao launched a new cross-border logistics service with AliExpress to help international merchants deliver small commodities across over 200 countries and regions. In Europe, Cainiao and AliExpress would cover additional shipping costs incurred as a result of the outbreak.
- Cainiao announced plans to charter 200 flights from March to April and opened a new route betweeneWTP Hubs ofHangzhou and Kuala Lumpur.
- Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao said it would lower logistics costs for merchants by RMB1 billion (US$144 million) in the coming year as a part of the company’sSpring Thunder Initiative to support SMEs.
- Cainiao said it’s prepared to support the expected surge in online-shopping demand for 6.18, which is set to be China’s biggest sales event since the outbreak of Covid-19. Its Cainiao Post pick-up stations also installed new contactless technologies, allowing consumers to pick up their packages within seconds using designated order codes.
Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP)
- The Electronic World Trade Platform joined forces with Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall Global in a special livestreamed program to help drive sales for global brands impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Since the outbreak, the logistics hub at Liege Airport in the eWTP hub of Belgium has played a vital role in ensuring timely deliveries of critical medical supplies both to and from the country and the continent. The airport has also been crucial in facilitating the onward delivery of medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation to countries across Europe.
- The eWTP hubs in Ethiopia and Rwanda enabled the transportation and distribution of medical goods donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation to 54 nations in Africa.
- The eWTP hub in Malaysia facilitated cross-border delivery of medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation to countries across Asia.
- The eWTP teamed up with Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce site Tmall Global on Thursday for a special livestreamed program to drive sales for global brands impacted by the pandemic.
Digital Media and Entertainment
- In April, Global Citizen and the World Health Organization brought together the world’s top musicians and entertainers for an online concert to raise funds for the ongoing global response to Covid-19. Alibaba Group joined other global tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and YouTube to amplify the concert’s reach worldwide. Alibaba Group broadcasted the show across its various platforms, such as Youku, Xiami, Damai, AliExpress and Lazada.
- Alibaba’s leading live-entertainment service platform, Damai, and online video hub, Youku, announced an online concert series titled Believe in the Future to pay tribute to frontline medical workers as daily life slowly returns to normal in China in the wake of Covid-19.
- While the economic effects of the novel coronavirus continue to be felt throughout China, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across the country remain optimistic about business prospects, according to AliResearch.
- When concerns about thecoronavirus kept people off the streets across China, millions found creative ways to get back to their favorite activities while stuck at home.
- Luohan Academy, a research institute initiated by Alibaba Group, hosted a livestreamed discussion about ways to support SMEs and their workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The webcast was part of the academy’s ongoing Luohan On Air series that focuses on issues and solutions related to the coronavirus outbreak.
- Alibaba Global Initiatives released a handbook titled “Digital Action for Entrepreneurs in the Age of Covid-19” that offers insights to help businesses rise above the coronavirus outbreak through digital technologies and innovations.
- Alibaba Business School launched its first-ever Global E-Commerce Talent Global Challenge to have university students find digital solutions to help businesses, individuals and institutions during and after the pandemic.
- Taobao University, Alibaba Group’s training and education platform, launched a free webinar series titled “Digital Insights 2020” to help small businesses regain their footing in the wake of Covid-19.