During an interview with Protocol President Bennett Richardson on February 1, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans announced that U.S. companies made sales of more than $61 billion to Chinese consumers on the company’s e-commerce platforms in 2021. That number represents a 50% increase for U.S. businesses on Alibaba’s platforms over the past two years.
During the event titled “How tech is making sure shopping will never be the same,” Richardson asked how Alibaba’s innovative technologies can serve as an important growth engine for U.S. businesses.
“American brands are very interested in making sales, but what they're really interested in is the direct consumer contact and developing that consumer base and coming up with new innovative products that are specific for the Chinese market,” said Evans.
Evans and Richardson discussed the digital innovations on Alibaba’s platforms that allow U.S. businesses to make deeper connections with customers through immersive experiences, whether it’s entertainment, gamification, or building an online community.
“Our strategy is to take the brands, the retailers, the small businesses, even the farmers and take their great products and put them on the platform and make this direct-to-consumer connection. Chinese consumers love American products.”
The discussion also noted Alibaba’s commitment to ESG and sustainability, including a carbon-neutral pledge by 2030. “We don't see anything inconsistent between having a great ESG strategy and also having a great and growing commerce strategy witheverything that it entails,” said Evans.
Alibaba is different from other e-commerce platforms because it is a marketplace, not a retailer. This distinction is critical because it means Alibaba connects U.S. businesses and theirproducts directly to the Chinese consumer. Businesses using Alibaba’s platforms own the relationships and consumer insights and have total control over pricing, marketing and merchandising decisions. This means Alibaba is always a partner and not a competitor to the U.S. brands on its platforms.
Lastly, Protocol’s David Pierce held a panel discussion on how tech is changing retail with Fast's Allison Barr Allen, fabric's Faisal Masud, and Pinterest's Jeremy King to close the webcast. The panelists noted that U.S. businesses are making strides and beginning to innovate in the digital space. They also discussed the convergence of online and offline experiences to engage customers and how augmented reality is poised to change the future of retail for areas including fashion and furniture.