The Alibaba News Roundup is a weekly digest of events and happenings across the company. This week’s coverage looks at Alibaba Cloud’s growth ambitions, Freshippo and Beyond Meat’s plant-based partnership and how a livestreamed tour brought netizens close to the Rosetta Stone.
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At the Alibaba Cloud Summit on Thursday, Alibaba Group’s cloud-computing division outlined its plans for global growth, including its goal of becoming the “world’s leading digital intelligence backbone” by 2023. At the virtual event, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence President Jeff Zhang said the business was fully committed to helping clients of all sizes and sectors accelerate their digital transformation to achieve long-term success in the post-coronavirus reality. The division also announced its partnership with multinational consumer-goods company Unilever, the launch of new partnerships and data infrastructure in Southeast Asia as well as a slate of new products and services. Click here to read more about the summit.
Pioneering plant-based meat brand Beyond Meat this week announced its partnership with Alibaba’s New Retail supermarket chain, Freshippo. The Los Angeles-headquartered company will launch its signature Beyond Burger at 50 Freshippo stores in Shanghai and will later introduce the product across more Freshippo locations nationwide. The partnership marks Beyond Meat’s first foray into mainland China’s supermarkets and comes at a time when the country is showing an increased appetite for healthier alternatives to meat.
Culture vultures had a chance to explore fascinating relics during a two-hour livestreamed tour of the British Museum. Closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world-renowned cultural institution – home to more than 8 million objects that span 2 million years of human history – transported netizens to its exhibition halls and galleries through the livestreaming technologies of Alibaba’s e-commerce app Taobao and travel-services platform Fliggy. The curated virtual tour covered some of the museum’s most famous artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone and the monumental statue of Ramses II. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Fliggy has been using its platform to help tourist attractions engage with the public through digital technologies. In May, it launched a livestreaming campaign to bring netizens to some of the most beautiful sites and destinations in Europe, including the Palace of Versailles in France.
Ant Group’s online private commercial bank this week announced its strategy to reach more small and micro enterprises in China. Over the course of the next five years, MYbank will leverage supply chain finance to support traditionally unserved or underserved SMEs, work with 2,000 county and village representatives to provide rural lending and partner with financial institutions to distribute a total of RMB300 billion ($42.4 billion) in interest-free vouchers for business loans. The online lender also committed to providing more economic opportunities to 40 million female business owners as part of its plan. The Ant-backed bank has been serving SMEs since its establishment in 2015 but ramped up its support for this sector even further in recent months in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As of June, MYbank and its partners have served 29 million SMEs in China.
Alibaba Global Course, the international arm of Alibaba Group’s education-and-training platform Taobao University, launched a new online-training initiative to help global SMEs digitize and navigate the post-pandemic business landscape. It recently hosted two English-language webinars – broadcast via DingTalk free of charge – to share some of the best practices and insights from Alibaba’s ecosystem, including from how to manage supply-chain disruptions to how they can leverage New Retail tools to enrich the shopping experience for consumers. More than 500 SMEs from Europe, Africa and North and Southeast Asia have tuned in to the courses. Taobao University said it will host even more sessions over the next year, as part of its goal to help businesses survive and thrive amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alibaba’s used-goods marketplace, Idle Fish, also known as “Xianyu” in Chinese, launched its first-ever designer-toy festival, aimed at the growing community of vinyl-figure and toy collectors on the platform. The event featured auctions of some of the most-coveted collectibles from artists around the world, such as KAWS, Daniel Arsham and Ron English. Idle Fish said it’s now home to China’s largest secondhand market for designer toys, giving rise to the booming blind-box economy in the country as well as emerging careers, such as doll-clothing designers or doll-modification specialists.
Alibaba Group is the most valuable brand in Asia and the sixth most valuable in the world, according to global communications company WPP and consulting firm Kantar. The ranking was revealed in the annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands list, which was released on Wednesday. Speaking on the company’s strategy, Group President Michael Evans said, “we have a giant ecosystem of businesses. When people look at Alibaba, they view it as a lifestyle app, so it isn’t just about coming and buying things…We want to make it easy for the consumer to find everything that they consider to be important in their lifestyle.”