Alibaba to target a new generation of customers with customized smart electronics

Heather in Hangzhou

With the Singles’ Day shopping festival approaching, Yin Jing, the head of Tmall Electronics, Alibaba’s electronics retailing arm, announced on Thursday that as many as 280 new electronics products will be launched on Tmall during the shopping festival.

Last year’s Singles’ Day shopping festival saw sales revenue totalling RMB 91.2 billion (USD 14 billion) in 24 hours at Alibaba’s online shopping platform.

A list of international device makers like Beats and iRobot are scheduled to launch new products and promotion campaigns during this year’s shopping festival.

“Beats headphones, with their iconic ‘b’ sign, represent a smart and cool lifestyle. This is the first time our partner Beats is launching its own products on Tmall,” said Yin.

Luke Wood, the president of Beats Electronics, said Beats sold out its products on Tmall within a few hours in last year’s Singles’ Day festival, and he is expecting to sell more this year.

According to Colin Angle, the co-founder and CEO of iRobot, shortly after the company launched products in China, it shifted its sales strategy focus in China from retail stores to online channels, which they believe have the most potential.

“The reason we partnered with Tmall is that, aside from its large market share, Tmall is a creative platform. It tells fantastic stories of brands and helps us engage customers,” said Angle.

Apple appointed Tmall for the simultaneous launch of the iPhone 7 in China. The popular jet black iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available at Tmall’s Apple Store during the festival, splitting the stock with China’s official Apple Stores.

In bridging device makers and consumers, Alibaba doesn’t just offer a transaction platform. In April, Tmall Electronics launched strategies to help international and domestic brands engage consumers and improve logistics and after-sales services.

In fact, Alibaba is now forming alliances with device companies. Daniel Zhang, the CEO of Alibaba Group announced on Thursday that Alibaba is to partner with tech companies, including Intel and CTA.

“With more alliances, we hope to innovate in the future, beyond the Double 11 shopping festival,” said Yin, the head of Tmall Electronics.

On top of that, Alibaba introduced a consumer-to-business (C2B) model to provide savvy Chinese online shoppers with customized products.

In October, Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba, said that over the past few decades the manufacturng industry has been about scale production and standardization. But over the next three decades, Ma said, manufacturing will be shifting to customization, smart devices and individualization. A new customer-to-business model will replace the old business-to-customer one.

During this year’s Double 11 festival, Tmall is to offer 367 customized products from 105 international and domestic brands.

(Top photo by Heather Wang)

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