Former Staples UK Managing Director, Amee Chande has been appointed as the managing director of the new Alibaba Group in the UK, as the Chinese e-commerce giant expands its operations in Europe. The company has also recruited Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio to head the Alibaba Group in Italy and plan to open offices in France and Germany in the coming month to assist with logistics and online payments.
Seen as a key rival to Amazon and other ecommerce sites, Alibaba state that the company’s presence in Europe is predominantly to serve local brands and retailers in order for them to bring internationally renowned products to an eager Chinese market. International brands already selling on the platform include Burberry, Superdry, Topshop, Unilever, Sainsbury’s and Costco.
Chande explained: “We want to be the gateway into China. We’re the experts in understanding Chinese consumer’s needs and want to strengthen the relationship with British retailers to enable businesses to access that market.”
Alibaba is also looking to work with government partners who are looking to access the Chinese consumer market. Following the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent state visit to the UK, Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, has been hired by David Cameron to be part of the British prime minister’s Business Advisory Group as; “someone who has real business experience and understanding of the Chinese market.” Ma will provide “particular help and advice on how to get small and medium-sized British businesses boosting their exports and in particular accessing Chinese markets through platforms like Alibaba”, a spokeswoman for the group explained.
Globalisation and M-Commerce Key To Current Growth
Globalisation is central to Alibaba’s strategy as it adds “country pavilions” to its Tmall shopping platform. In a similar vein to the US led “Black Friday” phenomenon, Alibaba also has a mega discount day which it has been running annually since 2009. The theme for this year’s discount day, which takes place on 11th November is significantly international products. Last year it generated record sales of $9 billion on that one day.
Acting as an intermediary by connecting consumers to sellers Alibaba makes its money via its two platforms Taobao (C2C) and Tmall (B2C). It charges sellers to post ads on Taobao and hosts ads and earns commission on Tmall.
Despite growing concerns about the slowdown in Chinese economy, and a downward trend in sales since Q1 2014, Alibaba has recently reported a larger than expected rise in revenue. This increase has been mainly due to the growth in ad slots on mobile devices as consumers are making a larger amount of their transactions on smartphones and other mobile devices.