Big Players, Big Lessons: Three lessons from Alibaba that your Online Store Can Use
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Even the largest and most successful eCommerce companies have something that small and medium-sized online stores can use to their advantage. And in this article from the “Big Players, Big Lessons” series, we will be addressing one of today’s largest online companies, Alibaba. More than that, we’ll look at what makes it so successful and what are the three lessons from Alibaba that your online store can use.
Alibaba Group: From China to the world
Alibaba is the largest Chinese eCommerce company and one of the largest in the world, along with Amazon and eBay. The group has several businesses in several areas, such as Alipay, the Chinese equivalent to PayPal, and social networks like Youku Tudou, the equivalent of Youtube. However, its three core operations are Taobao, the largest Chinese shopping website for C2C (consumers-to-consumers); Tmall, which is also a product sales platform, but focused on business-to-consumer (B2C) and Alibaba.com, which connects Chinese exporters with businesses around the world (B2B).
Alibaba was established in 1999 by Jack Ma, the company’s current chairman. In recent years, with the evolution of the Internet, the company has become a big, big company in the market.
- The market value of Alibaba is 223 billion euros;
- The number of active annual buyers on Alibaba platforms reached 454 million in 2017;
- The company controls 11.18% of the Chinese retail market;
- On November 11, 2017, the day that marks Singles Day, consumers spent 21.2 billion euros on Alibabas’ platforms.
So, since Alibaba is such a consolidated and experienced company, what can smaller online stores learn from it? Here are three practices that have helped Alibaba grow and can be applied to your online store.
Know your customer
From the start, and for successful multinationals, it’s easy to see one pattern: the customer always comes first. While some companies choose to focus on their products and lose focus on their target audience, especially when they reach a certain level of success, others succeed by doing just the opposite. Alibaba has made a priority to deepen its knowledge about the markets where they operate and of knowing the needs and desires of its public. This way the company uses extensive knowledge about what their customers want to improve their services and technology. That’s why its platform has a good usability, which eases the search and purchase of items on the website.
“Focus first on customer satisfaction and second on teamwork. Shareholders’ interests come third because they are outcomes, not inputs.”
– Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba
Encourage Write Reviews
Buying online has many pros and cons. On the one hand there is the convenience of not lifting a finger to buy items and the ability to find exactly the desired after a brief search on the internet. But, on the other, there is the difficulty of changing or returning the product. In addition, many consumers still have some insecurities about buying online, because they don’t know what to expect from the product. But Alibaba is already solving this last problem.
How? Very simple: by encouraging customer feedback in a critical or punctuation format, offering discounts and coupons on other products.
But what is the advantage of offering something for people to just write a review about a product? The answer lies in the influence that reviews have on online shoppers today. Studies show that 70% of consumers read reviews before buying something online and 79% of shoppers consider online reviews as good as a personal recommendation.
And more. About 67% of buyers read up to 6 reviews before they feel they can trust a company enough to make a purchase. So, in addition to increasing security in the purchase, reviews also create trust in your brand. So by encouraging reviews, you are making a good investment for the long term.
One of Alibaba’s most characteristic factors is its ability to innovate and make smart and valuable decisions. And one of its best choices in terms of business vision was betting on mobile. Alibaba made a point of creating an incredibly intuitive and simple-to-use mobile platform, reconciling itself as the leading eCommerce reference company in China and the world’s leading eCommerce company.
And, in addition to more than half of the world’s population having a mobile device, it is estimated that by 2020, 45% of all ecommerce is made from smartphones and tablets.
So today, it’s more important than ever to have a responsive website on mobile devices. Or, if you believe that an app is more beneficial to your business, make sure that it adds value to your customers, that it has good usability and that it is not simply a replica of your website in app format.
So, what can we learn from Alibaba?
There are 3 important aspects of Alibaba that you can apply to your online store.
- Make sure you know your market and your customer. By spending time knowing the desires and needs of your customers and potential customers will make your communication more efficient and improve your services and products.
- The reviews on a website are precious. Give your customers reason to write them.
- Mobile is the future of eCommerce. Always keep this in mind in your communication and on your website.
And, now that you know these three key points of Alibaba’s success, you can begin to evaluate how to incorporate them into your online store.