Alibaba conquering brands

With over 1,800 French brands listed on Alibaba platforms, including Hermès and L’Oréal, how did they establish themselves on the Chinese market?

Brands choose Alibaba Group to benefit from our digital sales tools, especially as international travel has been limited. Our digital marketplace provides e-commerce solutions to businesses of all sizes, from large groups to SMEs. In 2020, our partner brands sold over 9 billion goods in total gross value on Tmall [le site de revente en ligne B2C d’Alibaba, Ndlr].

Without forgetting other longtime partners, including Etam, L’Occitane or even Lancôme, we also support new brands. This is the case of Courbet, an innovative, ecological and ethical jewel. Offers jewelry fashioned from recycled gold with synthetic diamonds. From Place Vendôme, their development takes place on Tmall. Today, this channel accounts for 100% of their sales in the Chinese market.

Europe, and France in particular, represent an important market. Our role with partners is to raise awareness of market potential, China’s specific highlights, such as seasonal sales peaks. Therefore, we provide various solutions, not only at the market launch, but also to continuously strengthen the development and presence of the brand.

In France as in Europe, consumers are increasingly appreciating the “shopping”, this mode of real-time transmission during which a spokesperson presents a product. To what extent the “live streaming” enrich the online user experience?

This trend originated in China in 2016. The “live streaming “ is a live communication tool that Alibaba Group has helped democratize. During these broadcasts, a KOL [“key opinion leader”, en français “un leader d’opinion”, Ndlr]or a KOC [“key opinion consumer”, Ndlr], presents and manages a selection of products. Pre-sales customer engagement is established through a brand and content ambassador. According to a study conducted by the consulting firm Forrester in 2021, a specialist in innovative business transformation levers, of 1,400 consumers in France and Europe, 70% of them say they are very interested in this way of creating a situation with products and brand names.

To what extent is the prestige of French luxury revealed in e-commerce, particularly in the online experience of consumers?

More focused on physical stores, the world of luxury has always been reluctant to the digital world. In 2017 we launched the Tmall Luxury Pavilion, the first Chinese digital marketplace dedicated to the luxury industry. In all, there are more than 200 brands. At a rate of 50 per year since the start of the pandemic, a new brand joins the platform virtually every week. Backed by a degree of innovation unique to Alibaba, the Tmall Luxury Pavilion offers the most comprehensive experience across all touchpoints of the brand for Chinese luxury consumers.

“Since the start of the pandemic, a new brand has entered the Tmall Luxury Pavilion practically every week”

In this 3D showroom, brands can create their own virtual universe, not only through “live streaming “, but also augmented reality tools, which allow you to view shoes, or even jewelry before any purchase. Thanks to the features dedicated to delivery, to customer service, up to a “live chat “, which replicates an exchange in real time with a seller, customers can feel, from their living room, as in a shop. Gen-Z is the future of luxury customers. Innovative tools, such as the news feed relating to new collections, Cloud pop-ups and 3D models, are, for brands, many assets to establish a fundamental relationship.

The group has digital platforms such as and AliExpress. Can you share the axes of successful online marketing?

Alibaba’s mission remains to facilitate the connection of sellers and buyers, as well as the business development of merchants. The group strategy is divided into three levers. Through digital tools, we support e-commerce in China for French brands. The online platforms Tmall and Tmall Global facilitate specific BtoC exchanges for the Chinese market. Finally, our channels help brands go global.

In China, is our BtoB market. AliExpress provides access to international products, experiences from “buyer”, but also dedicated events. On the occasion of the Double 11 shopping festival [le 11 novembre constitue un jour de fête pour les célibataires en Chine, tradition qu’Alibaba a contribué à perpétuer, Ndlr]we organized a music festival, which was broadcast to 1.4 million viewers across Europe.

As a digital group, Alibaba supports companies towards e-commerce. Which features and platforms lend themselves best to this evolution?

While the Alibaba Group’s business as a marketplace is well known, the digital transformation support we offer is less so. With both retailers and brands, we provide the levers for digital transformation. Auchan, for example, partnered with us in 2020 and launched a series of “direct “ on AliExpress, our site dedicated to selling consumer goods to individuals.

Thanks to the technical tools and infrastructure offered, the partner brands are increasing their export capacity to China. Also, Chinese consumers love niche and international brands. Last year, La Bouche Rouge, an ethical cosmetics brand launched on Tmall Global. To a “live broadcast” at our Double 11 event, no less than a thousand tubes of lipstick were sold in just a few minutes.

“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030”

Simply put, can you share Alibaba’s ambitions in 2022 and beyond with us?

At the end of 2021, we signed an ESG commitment pledge. Therefore, we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030, with the aim of reducing our CO2 emissions by 1.5 giga tons in our ecosystem by 2035. We are already taking these initiatives. Also on the occasion of the Double 11 shopping festival, we used algorithms to optimize our packaging and shipping logistics, with less plastic packaging, tapes and labels, as well as shorter delivery routes. .

In addition, we have set up recycling centers, where buyers can return their packaging once the packages have been received. These actions will be multiplied by 2030, as well as the promotion of “green” brands, in order to change consumer expectations. And with them the market habits.

Interview by Alexandra Bui

Michelle Lau, co-director of Alibaba Group in France

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