The Alibaba News Roundup is a weekly digest of events and happenings across the company. This week’s coverage focuses on companywide efforts to stimulate economic recovery as China emerges from its coronavirus lockdowns. We also look at ways of sharing knowledge to battle Covid-19, including through a livestreamed webinar attended by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.
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Alibaba Group on Tuesday kicked off its activities for the Shuangpin Online Shopping Festival. Co-organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the China Consumers Association, the two-week event aims to stimulate China’s post-coronavirus economic recovery. Ten core businesses in the Alibaba ecosystem, including Taobao, Tmall, Juhuasuan and Freshippo, are participating this year and will bring together 100,000 brands, ranging from international luxury labels such as Gucci and Yeezy to time-honored domestic brands. Aside from various promotional campaigns, Alibaba is also offering RMB10 billion ($1.41 billion) in subsidies to promote consumption. Meanwhile, the company is also gearing up for the May 5th Shopping Festival happening in Shanghai next week. The festival, which runs until June, will showcase Alibaba’s online as well as offline capabilities in driving traffic and sales for merchants across different sectors.
For the extended Labor Day Holiday from May 1-5 in China, Alibaba Group’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. Working with partnering merchants, the platform has introduced RMB100 million in subsidies and will issue coupons for everything from transportation to accommodation to drive tourist consumption in several major cities across China. Fliggy said it would also continue to use livestreaming to bring popular attractions to tourists who are not yet able to travel and would make available refundable packages for added flexibility. Meanwhile, longer-term coronavirus-relief initiatives aimed at revitalizing the tourism industry include the introduction of more than 130 themed marketing events over the course of the year and 12-month reduced-interest merchant loans from MYbank.
Speaking of MYbank, the Ant Financial-backed online lender on Monday released its annual report. Of special note was the bank’s support of China’s small and micro enterprises; in 2018, MYbank launched its Star Plan initiative to strengthen SME financing over a three-year period. As of the end of 2019, it had worked with more than 400 financial partners and served 20.87 million SMEs. According to MYbank President Xiaolong Jin, the business aims to continue empowering SMEs, especially through the economic hardships presented by Covid-19. As such, the bank plans to expand its service to cover more SMEs in 2020. Since the coronavirus outbreak, MYbank has been working to provide support to merchants, including through interest-free and low-interest loans.
Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma on Tuesday appeared in a livestreamed webinar to discuss coronavirus-prevention methods. Co-hosted by the Jack Ma Foundation, Alibaba Foundation, Alibaba Health and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the session was designed to facilitate knowledge-sharing between medical professionals from Africa, China and other parts of the world. During the webinar, Ma emphasized the importance of working together during the global crisis. “Solidarity and collaboration are the only ways we can succeed,” he said. Read more here.
Luohan Academy, a research institute established by Alibaba Group, on Sunday hosted a livestreamed discussion about ways to support SMEs and their workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Speakers included Christopher Pissarides, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2010, as well as former International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu and Luohan Academy Director Long Chen. 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 Cloud has partnered with U.S. cloud-services provider VMware to bring their joint cloud solutions to businesses in China and Hong Kong. This partnership empowers existing VMware service users to scale up their businesses and IT capacities, allowing them to easily extend their workflows onto Alibaba Cloud with neither disruptions nor the need for restructuring. Additionally, businesses can tap into VMware’s latest technologies, such as in the areas of cloud migration, data-center extension and disaster recovery, and enjoy direct support from Alibaba Cloud in the process.
For its Super Brand Day, on April 24, sports retailer Decathlon rolled out a 360-degree campaign with Alibaba, featuring creative co-branding with the company’s mascots and New Retail experiences to surprise consumers. Decathlon customized a mobile game with Tmall, integrated its membership rewards system with the platform and provided in-store pickup services across 150 physical stores as well as two-hour speed deliveries for consumers close to its locations. That day, the brand shot to number one in sales across categories such as training equipment, yoga, protective sports gear, skateboards and roller blades, outdoor apparel and tents. It also sold out all badminton rackets and its stock of nearly 10,000 trampolines in just 10 minutes.
Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba’s dedicated platform for premium 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. The digital show, which wrapped up on April 29, showcased more than 100 timepieces from nine watchmakers – including Cartier, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai – as well as their branded content and new product drops. The event ran in tandem with other virtual activations launched by the Swiss trade show’s organizer, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, to offer a platform for brands to continue engaging the media, retailers and consumers despite canceling the physical event due to Covid-19.
Nordic fashion and lifestyle brand Arket announced this week that it would open a digital flagship store on Alibaba’s B2C e-commerce platform Tmall. Hennes & Mauritz AB, which operates Arket, said that the Tmall store would be launched in August and would be the brand’s first expansion outside of Europe. Several of Hennes & Mauritz’s other brands, including its namesake H&M label, Cos, Monki and & Other Stories already have stores on Tmall.
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 the wake of Covid-19. A large collaborative effort initiated by China’s largest digital entertainment platforms, including Weibo, Netease Music, Damai, Xiami and Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the concert will feature hundreds of Asia’s biggest stars, such as Coco Lee, Faye Wong , G.E.M., Jackson Yee, Lang Lang, Na Ying and Wang Feng. Gao Xiaosong, a prominent Chinese musician as well as chairman of the Alibaba Entertainment Strategic Committee, will curate the event. The first show of the series will be available to stream for free on May 4 through Youku and other platforms. The show will also include performances by special guests, such as the Chinese national table tennis team, and feature stories from medical staff and volunteers who had been on the front lines fighting against the coronavirus.