Did you know that Alibaba is not a company anymore? Certainly not according to its executive chairman and founder Jack Ma who has made it very clear that Alibaba is now an economy rather than a company. Jack Ma’s target is for Alibaba to hit gross merchandise volume of over $1 trillion by March 31 2020 as well as creating over 100 million jobs that serve over two billion customers. Speaking recently he said:
“Five years ago, when the Taobao and Tmall GMV just crossed $170bn GMV, which is RMB1 trillion, I had a crazy idea, I said,‘What if we could make $1tn by the 20-year anniversary of Alibaba, the year 2019—today we call it the 2020 fiscal year—we should meet the $1tn U.S. dollars?’” said Ma, “but I hate the exchange rate.”
Alibaba certainly is doing everything it can to hit these ambitious targets and is undertaking aggressive expansion plans ast it drives forward with its globalisation strategy. Over the past 12 months, Ma has spent more than 800 hours on aeroplanes flying to dozens of countries all over the globe meeting heads of states and business leaders. The aim of these trips is to sell his dream of small businesses from across the world trading freely and securely on the Alibaba platform.
One of the key drivers of Alibaba’s growth and one that will become more and more important in the future is how they have positioned ecommerce as an entertainment activity rather than a simple necessity. A good example of this is the 11.11 Singles Day shopping extravaganza. This annual festival has blossomed from humble beginnings as a discount shopping day to becoming a full scale entertainment event that has a prime time TV gala following weeks of excitement and hype.Talking about how they have made ecommerce an entertainment sport, Kenneth Tan, the chief digital officer of Mindshare China said:
“Alibaba have made ecommerce an entertainment sport, they have turned the act of purchasing into a sport. Last year was the second time Alibaba created a gala event around Double 11. The first time they did it, it attracted a lot of noise and buzz. But last year they took the interactive element to a different level, with celebrities, streaming activity, mobile TV. There was a big push to get people to engage with the event. On TV it was four hours of activity where you could win money, win products, engage with the brands, and it was all happening live on p one of the top TV channels in China in a prime time slot. It was one night of pure entertainment.”
By 2036, according to Ma, Alibaba will effectively become the world’s fifth largest economy behind the USA, China, Japan and the European Union. Going by their previous successes, there’s every reason to think that they will be.