The retail industry has changed in ways that will outlast the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. online retail sales increased by 44% last year to $861 billion as consumers shifted to online shopping. However, according to a study by First Insight, consumers will not be rushing back to brick-and-mortar stores even if they are fully vaccinated. This presents both challenges and opportunities for brands and retailers in the future.
We believe the key to success in this new era for retail comes down to two things: digitization and willingness to look to new markets for growth. Last year, U.S. brands, retailers and SMEs sold more than $54 billion of products to Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s platforms, helping to offset the impact of the pandemic by finding new ways to reach and engage global customers.
I spend a great deal of time with the U.S. retail community explaining the opportunities Alibaba offers and I am grateful to our brand partners for their willingness to share their advice on how to succeed in China. For example, Wharton Business School hosted an event for its community of business leaders where Todd Kahn, CEO and Brand President of Coach shared the reasons Coach is the top-ranked brand on our Tmall platform. And to celebrate Chinese New Year, we hosted a virtual event for the top retail and e-commerce analysts and industry leaders around to the world to exchange ideas on the future and hear from ten small businesses who started selling to China on our platforms during the pandemic.
In February, we also hosted our first-ever Global Products Expo, featuring a “Made in the USA” event. The two-week virtual expo helped hundreds of U.S. businesses connect with customers around the world.
As we welcome the Year of the Ox, we remain optimistic that U.S. brands will grow and thrive with the help of Alibaba’s platforms.
Michael Evans, President and Director, Alibaba Group