Alibaba Group on Monday unveiled measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises in China affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
In an open letter published on a day when many businesses across the country were resuming their operations after an extended Lunar New Year break, the group emphasized the importance of containing the outbreak, while also ensuring the continuation of economic development and the survival of enterprises. Alibaba had already established two task forces to support SMEs during the outbreak and said the new measures would ramp up efforts to help merchants during this difficult period.
Leveraging Alibaba’s extensive ecosystem, the 20 measures aim to offer support across six major areas, including:
Reduced or waived platform fees
Alibaba will stop charging certain fees across its platforms. These include B2C marketplace Tmall, which will waive service fees for the first half of 2020 and offer free services to eligible merchants registered in Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The group’s logistics arm, Cainiao, will offer two months of waived fees for warehouse rentals before the end of March, while local-services platform Koubei will waive commissions for merchants until the end of February, or until the end of March for Wuhan-based businesses.
Low-interest and interest-free loans
Ant Financial‘s online bank brand MYbank announced interest-free and low-interest loans to Taobao and Tmall merchants registered in Hubei. The one-year loans will total RMB10 billion ($1.43 billion) and be interest-free for three months, after which the rate will be reduced 20% from current levels. Another RMB10 billion in one-year loans will be available to merchants outside Hubei province with interest rates 20% below current levels. From now until March, payments will also be issued to merchants free of charge as soon as an order has been fulfilled.
Subsidized delivery personnel and increased logistics efficiency
Taobao, Tmall and Cainao pooled their resources to launch a RMB1 billion fund for supply chain and logistics services. Couriers will receive extra compensation for their services, while companies can enjoy various waived fees and subsidies.
Creation of flexible job openings
Alibaba’s New Retail supermarket, Freshippo, introduced an employee-sharing scheme that allows those who work in hospitality, dining, movie theaters, department stores and various other sectors to find temporary jobs at Freshippo locations. Similarly, Ele.me and Koubei’s Blue Ocean scheme gives restaurant employees the opportunity to work as temporary couriers or convenience-store clerks.
Tools for accelerating digitization
Businesses will have access to various resources from the Alibaba ecosystem free of charge. These include Taobao Livestream services for all offline merchants, online courses from Taobao University and digital solutions and proprietary services from Cainiao.
Remote work management
To assist businesses in handling remote-working conditions, Dingtalk’s “Work from Home” function, which allows up to 302 participants in video conferences and other business-related features, will be available at no cost to enterprises. Alibaba Cloud and Alipay have also launched seven major benefits for developers, including cash offers and free cloud-computing resources.
Tmall Global, which works primarily with brands that don’t have an offline presence in China, also rolled out a series of measures to help its merchants. They include a six-month waiver on the annual service fee for some merchants, free use of its online shop setup tool, reduction or exemption of warehouse rent and reduction of logistics costs and agency service fees along with lower-interest loans.
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