In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with Shanshan Tang, Global Business Lead, Canada, at Alibaba. This was a fantastic opportunity to talk to someone from the largest eCommerce companies in the world that operates outside of China. We spoke about Tmall and Tmall Global, both the international shoppers and local Chinese, and some noticeable trends that have been shaped by COVID-19. We also talked about how and why COVID-19 changed purchasing habits and drove offline employees online as live streaming agents for brands instead of in-store clerks. We talked about what solutions Alibaba offers new brands on its platform given the changing environment, and what the future looks like for the ecosystem. We spoke about tactics for driving brand growth, how to build a brand’s personality into their 360-degree marketing plans, and described what ‘hero products’ are. We then discussed what product categories are moving fastest up the scale on both sides of the ocean in consumer demand. And we did it all in almost 20 minutes. Enjoy!
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Shanshan Tang, Global Business Lead for Canada at Alibaba. Alibaba’s Vancouver office was opened in 2018 with two main goals: to help Canadian brands (especially smaller ones) sell to China using their eCommerce platform, and to promote cross-border tourism and online and in-store enablement of Alipay.
Alibaba was founded as an eCommerce company 20 years ago. Today, it has evolved well beyond that. According to Shanshan, today the platform provides “a marketplace, logistics, payment services, marketing, call computing, big data, lifestyle, entertainment, and health.”
With the many unique challenges presented by COVID-19 in 2020, some interesting trends have emerged on Tmall’s platform. For one, online tools such as live streaming have become much more popular. In line with this, there has been a closer integration of Tmall’s online and offline stores. Shanshan shares that amid the complete shutdown in China during the pandemic, department store associates took advantage of their tools by live streaming promotional videos right “from their counters”.
The future of Alibaba’s eCommerce ecosystem sees the ever-closer integration of online and offline resources. There will also be an increase in the implementation of AI to Alibaba’s online tools to help merchants better customize the buying experience for individual consumers. Tmall has also put a focus on improving its brand loyalty forums in order to foster a greater sense of community among its customers.
As the first step for companies looking to capitalize on Alibaba’s many sales and marketing channels, Shanshan recommends that they enter the platform with their hero products initially, using content marketing via social media to promote their brand and value proposition.
What is The Negotiation?
Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.
The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.