China’s middle class is already around the size of the entire population of the USA and Australia combined. Even more remarkable, is the fact China’s middle class is expected to double by the end of the decade.

For local ecommerce merchants, the opportunity is huge.

Australian retailers will get the chance to build a better understanding of the Chinese market at this year’s Alibaba E-Commerce Expo to be held in Sydney between September 21-22 and then again in Melbourne on October 19 and 20.

The event gives local brands and retailers the chance to connect with the Alibaba ecosystem, hear directly from executives at the e-commerce giant, and discover how they can leverage the technology Alibaba has already developed for its retail clients, via Alibaba Cloud.

Australian brands like Swisse, Blackmores and Chemist Warehouse have carved out success in the Chinese market, through Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace. Chemist Warehouse has grown on Tmall Global to become the largest cross-border retailer on the platform. Both businesses will be exhibiting at the event.

Another key feature of the Expo is the role Alibaba Cloud plays in the success of its retailing clients.

According to Raymond Ma, General Manager of Alibaba Cloud, Australia and New Zealand, “As the cloud computing arm of the Alibaba Group, Alibaba Cloud supports the rest of the business with a comprehensive suite of global cloud computing services which it also offers to customers around the world.

“Our services help retailers increase engagement with customers. Image search and recommendation engine are two examples of this technology. Both enable customers to search for products via images or suggest new items to buy based on purchase history,” he said.

Alibaba Cloud also offers video and image analytic solutions for retailers through anonymising images to calculate store traffic versus revenue per square metre which is particularly important to an omnichannel world.

“We are pioneering unique identification by linking and automating a profile labelling service called ‘OneID’, which tackles complex entity identification and simplifies this with a relationship algorithm to link and profile customers across various platforms,” Ma told Which-50.

Augmented Reality

The retail industry is moving away from separate offline and online engagement to a more seamless strategy of engagement. To do this successfully, it needs to leverage technology.

Ma said, “AR is one element which helps merge online and offline retail, and the magic mirror cosmetic demonstration at this year’s Expo demonstrates how real-time images combined with interesting products can better engage customers and reduce sales times for brands.”

Once again, Alibaba Cloud underpins this technology both through the provision of both Infrastructure-as-a-service and AI.

“From an IaaS perspective, Alibaba Cloud provides distributed storage service to support massive storage of data, such as product images, in a cost-effective way. We also provide a set of AI SDKs to recognise product images and the human body, so software engineers can quickly develop the application for the magic mirror,” Ma said.

Mature market

Alibaba Cloud is making a significant push into the Australian market and understands the importance of applications to its appeal.

According to Ma, Australia is a mature cloud computing market and large enterprises are no longer only looking for IT infrastructure services from cloud vendors but instead are looking for solutions across big data and AI to address new challenges in today’s world.

“For Alibaba Cloud, in addition to the typical cloud solutions such as disaster recovery, and DevOps, we try to enable our clients with the right tools in Big Data and AI as well as providing end-to-end solutions with support from the broader Alibaba Group eco-system,” he said.

About the author

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which Alibaba is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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