Alibaba Group revealed some of the retail technology it is pitching to Australian businesses in Sydney today at its E-Commerce Expo.
The Chinese giant is attempting to entice more Australian brands into the lucrative Chinese market through its wide-reaching ecommerce platforms and retail technology, while also attempting to drive the uptake of its digital payments arm, Alipay, in Australia.
The pitch for Australian brands is the incredible scale of the Chinese market – including a rapidly growing middle class – and retail tech that integrates the online and offline shopping experience.
For Australian retailers, Alibaba Group is pushing its digital payment feature – Alipay – to service the one million Chinese tourists and students that visit Australia each year. The payment option is already available in 10,000 Australian retailers, but is generally restricted to Chinese users because Alipay requires a verified Chinese account.
Alipay executives said there are no immediate plans to offer the service to Australian domestic shoppers as the company focuses on emerging markets like India.
Which-50 received an early look at new retail technology ahead of Alibaba’s inaugural Australian event at the ICC in Sydney, a conference expected to attract around 10,000 delegates over the next two days.
The expo is targeted at “microbrands” and “mum and dad stores” selling or looking to sell into China on one of Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms. The event includes keynotes from Alibaba executives and successful Australian brands as well as a demonstration of the Alibaba cloud powered retail technology. The event will also run in Melbourne in October.
“The 2018 Expo has been designed to engage big businesses already having great success with our online marketplaces like Tmall and Tmall Global, as well as SMEs who are looking for knowledge and support to tap into the Chinese market,” said Maggie Zhou, managing director for Alibaba Australia and New Zealand.
Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets are the “future of grocery shopping in China”, according to the company. In addition to in-store QR codes, mobile payment, and facial recognition checkouts, the supermarket sells local Chinese shoppers on convenience.
60 per cent of Hema shoppers do so from home via the mobile app. If they live within 3km of the store your order will be delivered within 30 minutes.
Hema supermarkets have a modest footprint in China presently but Alibaba said it has plans to grow the number of stores to 1000 over the next five years. According to the company, Australian beef, wine and oysters are already popular in Hema stores.
Executives also told Which-50 they plan to eventually incorporate its Alibaba blockchain enabled supply chain tracking system, currently in pilot, into Hema stores to help guarantee the authenticity of Australian food products.
The Magic Mirror is an in-store augmented reality display allowing consumers to virtually trial various cosmetic products like lipstick and eyeliner. Through Alibaba Cloud the technology is also available through mobile apps.
If consumers are satisfied with their virtual makeup, integration with Alipay means products can be quickly dispensed through vending machines or delivered.
According to the company, Alibaba’s cloud shelf blurs the distinction between online and offline shopping.
The in-store, free-standing kiosk displays product information and reviews which can be accessed by holding products in front of the kiosk, scanning QR codes and bluetooth chips within packaging. Goods can be purchased directly from the kiosk or shoppers can connect to Tmall and have products delivered.
According to Alibaba Group, by tapping into its ecommerce platforms the Cloud Shelf allows brick and mortar retailers to display products that would otherwise only be available online.
On the more gimmicky side, Cloud Shelf claims its AI-powered software can detect human moods based on facial expressions and offer appropriate products.