What is Alibaba?


Alibaba may be largest consumer name in the world, but for consumers outside of China, few people know exactly what the company is and does. And, add the names of Tmall, Taobao, and AliExpress and non-Chinese consumers may be even more confused about the company. For those who are new to Alibaba, here is a quick list of key components and subsidiaries.

  • Alibaba Group: Founded by Jack Ma in 1989 as an ecommerce site, the company now includes multiple components including shopping, cloud computing, music, entertainment and more.
  • Alibaba.com: Large B2B platform used for the large manufacturing and production capabilities of China.
  • Taobao.com: Consumer-to-consumer shopping site offering more than 750 million products (similar to eBay). A majority of its revenue is from selling advertising to retailers hoping to be noticed by shoppers. Beware of counterfeit goods.
  • Tmall.com: Launched in 2008 as a business-to-consumer site, it has now grown to be a competitor of Taobao.com and became an independent e-commerce company in 2011. Tmall.com has brand ‘storefronts’ enabling companies to reach hundreds of millions of consumers (similar to Amazon). For example, Tesla automobiles are sold exclusively on Tmall.com.
  • 11main.com: This is Alibaba’s U.S.-based shopping platform, aiming to be a Tmall.com for America.
  • Alipay: An 11-year old financial powerhouse that processes $700 billion a year (half of China’s online payments) and has 300 million users. Alipay is global and is courting international users and partners such as Walmart.There is more to Alibaba than the above companies, and since it is now a public company, watch for it to further expansion in the coming years.
  • Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
  1. Ask students if they have heard of Alibaba, and what they might know about the company.
  2. Show a video about Alibaba: http://www.nytimes.com/video/business/international/100000002865514/what-is-alibaba.html
  3. Divide students into teams and have team research the company for 10 minutes.
  4. Have each team brief the class about key points learned.
  5. Next, have each team develop a marketing plan to using Alibaba to reach the Chinese market.

Source: Brandchannel.com, other news sources

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