The world's largest e-commerce company, already known by keen online shoppers in Australia and worldwide for its eBay-rivalling digital marketplace of very cheap, mass-produced, drop-shipped consumer goods, is setting up an office down under. 1300 Australian brands are already sold through Alibaba's online stores, and the digital giant is keen for that number to grow.
Although online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are better known in Australia, Alibaba's Tmall (previously Taobao Mall) and AliExpress stores have a number of Australian and New Zealand brands and products that are disproportionately popular; but a statement from a company representative said "there is still huge potential for growth, due primarily to Chinese consumers’ growing demand for quality products coupled with the trusted reputations of both countries."
Australian baby food and supplements, skincare and wine are the most popular items sold through Alibaba's online shopping portal — brands like Blackmores, Fonterra and a2 Milk sell supplements that are incredibly popular in China, while Jurlique and Penfolds are bought for the prestige of their beauty products and wines. Australia Post, Woolworths and Chemist Warehouse all sell their products through Alibaba.
Later this year, Alibaba will open an office in Melbourne which will let it "support Australian and New Zealand merchants already on [its] platforms", as well as recruit more companies to sell their items through Tmall and AliExpress, and to influence government and industry. As well as e-commerce, Alibaba also has services in digital entertainment, travel and online payments. The number of transactions made through online payment provider AliPay is larger than through the better-known-to-Western-audiences MasterCard.
Alibaba also recently announced the launch of the OS'Car RX5, "a mass-produced internet-connected car", in partnership with China's SAIC Motor Corp. The car was unveiled alongside a new operating system called "YunOS for Cars", with a cloud-based data platform allowing in-car navigation accurate to the meter without using Wi-Fi or GPS, and voice control for driver interaction. The RX5 also features four detachable action cameras that can be used to record journeys and take "360-degree in-car selfies". [Alibaba]