Alibaba conquers brands

With over 1,800 French brands featured on Alibaba’s platforms, including Hermès and L’Oréal, how did they market themselves in the Chinese market?

Brands choose the Alibaba Group to take advantage of our digital sales tools, especially as international travel is subject to restrictions. Our digital marketplace offers e-commerce solutions for structures of all sizes, from large groups to SMEs. In 2020, our partner brands sold more than 9 billion merchandise in total gross value on Tmall [le site de revente en ligne B2C d’Alibaba, Ndlr]†

Without forgetting other long-term partners, including Etam, L’Occitane or even Lancôme, we also support new brands. Such is the case with Courbet, an innovative, ecological and ethical jewel. It offers jewelry made from recycled gold with synthetic diamonds. From Place Vendôme, their development takes place on Tmall. Today, this channel accounts for 100% of their sales in the Chinese market.

Europe, and France in particular, are an important market. Our role with partners is to raise awareness of market potential, China-specific highlights, such as seasonal sales peaks. Thus, we offer different solutions, not only at the market launch, but also continuously to strengthen the development and presence of the brand.

Both in France and in Europe, consumers are increasingly appreciating the “shopping entertainment”, this mode of real-time broadcasting where a spokesperson presents a product. To what extent the “live streaming” enrich the online user experience?

This trend originated in China in 2016. the “live streaming” is a live communication tool that helped democratize the Alibaba Group. During these broadcasts, a KOL [“key opinion leader”, en français “un leader d’opinion”, Ndlr]or a KOC [“key opinion consumer”, Ndlr], presents and handles a selection of products. Pre-sale customer engagement is accomplished through brand ambassador and content. According to a study conducted in 2021 by the consultancy Forrester, a specialist in innovative levers for business transformation, 70% of the 1,400 consumers in France and Europe say that they are very interested in this way of setting up a situation with products and brands.

To what extent is the prestige of French luxury reflected in e-commerce, particularly in the online consumer experience?

More focused on brick and mortar stores, the luxury world has always been shy towards the digital world. In 2017, we launched the Tmall Luxury Pavilion, China’s first digital marketplace dedicated to the luxury industry. In total there are more than 200 brands present. At a rate of 50 per year since the start of the pandemic, a new brand is joining the platform almost every week. Backed by a degree of innovation unique to Alibaba, the Tmall Luxury Pavilion provides the most comprehensive experience across all brand touchpoints for Chinese luxury consumers.

“Since the start of the pandemic, a new brand has been entering the Tmall Luxury Pavilion almost every week”

In this 3D showroom, brands can create their own virtual universe, not just by “live streaming” but also augmented reality tools, which allow you to visualize shoes or even jewelry before you buy them. Thanks to features for delivery, customer service, up to a “live chat”, which mimics a real-time exchange with a salesperson, allows customers to feel like they are in a store from their living room. Gen-Z is the future of luxury customers. Innovative tools, such as the new collection news feed, Cloud pop-ups and 3D models are so many assets for brands to build a crucial relationship.

The group has digital platforms such as and AliExpress. Can you share the axes of successful online marketing?

Alibaba’s mission remains to facilitate the connection of sellers and buyers, as well as merchants’ business development. The group strategy is divided into three levers. We support e-commerce in China for French brands through digital tools. The online platforms Tmall and Tmall Global facilitate BtoC exchanges specific to the Chinese market. Finally, our channels help brands go global.

In China, is our BtoB marketplace. AliExpress provides access to international products, experiences from “shopper entertainment”as well as special events. On the occasion of the Double 11 shopping festival [le 11 novembre constitue un jour de fête pour les célibataires en Chine, tradition qu’Alibaba a contribué à perpétuer, Ndlr]we organized a music festival, broadcast to 1.4 million viewers across Europe.

As a digital group, Alibaba supports companies towards e-commerce. Which features and platforms lend themselves best to this evolution?

If the Alibaba group’s activity as a marketplace is known, the digital transformation support we provide is less so. With both retailers and brands, we provide the levers for digital transformation. For example, Auchan partnered with us in 2020 and launched a series “live streams” on AliExpress, our site dedicated to the sale of consumer goods to individuals.

Thanks to the technical tools and infrastructures offered, the partner brands are increasing their export capacity to China. In addition, Chinese consumers love niche and international brands. Last year, La Bouche Rouge, an ethical cosmetics brand, was launched on Tmall Global. at a “live stream” Due to our Double 11 event, no less than a thousand tubes of lipstick were sold in a few minutes.

“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030”

In a few words, can you share with us Alibaba’s ambitions in 2022 and beyond?

At the end of 2021, we signed an ESG commitment pledge. That’s why we’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030, with the goal of reducing our carbon emissions across our entire ecosystem by 1.5 gigatons by 2035. We are already starting these initiatives. Also on the occasion of the Double 11 shopping festival, we used algorithms to optimize our packaging and shipping logistics, with less plastic-intensive packaging, tape and labels, as well as shorter delivery routes. †

In addition, we have established recycling centers where buyers can return their packaging once the packages have been received. Such actions will be multiplied by 2030, as will the promotion of “green” brands, to change consumer expectations. And with them, market habits.

Interview by Alexandra Buic

Michelle Lau, co-director of Alibaba Group in France

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