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Use of big data helps small firms win orders, lift exports

By He Wei in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-11 10:02
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Visitors at the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2018 in Guiyang, Southwest China's Guizhou province, on May 28, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Exports are picking up momentum, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises that are using big data to create products shaped precisely to customers' needs, according to, the nation's largest wholesale trade site.

The number of new customers at the portal hit nearly 6,000 in December, logging the biggest number of single-month new entrants since its founding in 1999, said Yu Yong, vice-president of Alibaba Group and co-general manager of

"While traditional big corporations are struggling with the economic uncertainty, forward-thinking smaller players are definitely seeing and grasping opportunities," Yu said.

The trends accord with upbeat trade readings from China and help to dispel worries over lingering stagnancy in the global economy.

According to company figures, serves 150 million registered users around the world, by giving suppliers the tools essential to reaching a global audience, and helping buyers target products and suppliers in an efficient manner.

In late December, the site announced the launch of a "one-stop" digitalization solution for Chinese exporters, helping sellers with match making, branding, payment and escrow service, logistics and cross-border supply chain. The service is set to make its market debut during the ongoing 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Under the initiative, sellers can leverage Alibaba's extensive database to work out the latest market trends and customize products for overseas buyers.

"Using the digital tool, we managed to notice surging interest from the United States in bathroom cabinets that are longer and narrower than our existing models," said Ding Gefeng, general manager of Hangzhou Home Dee Sanitary Ware Co Ltd. "That has prompted us to devise new models to secure new orders."

Also available is the Pay Later service that extends buyers' payment period for up to six months. While consumer finance has been commonplace across individual online shoppers, escrow and credit services in wholesale trade are still a novelty, largely due to the potential high costs should a default occur.

But with artificial intelligence and big data at play, the site can use a buyer's procurement history to build a credit profile in real time, helping streamline the traditional process of loan applications to just minutes, Yu noted.

"With Trade Assurance - a free order protection service - I know Alibaba is behind my purchase, and that if something goes wrong, Alibaba will jump in and help me solve problems with manufacturers, making doing business faster and easier," said Ez Karpf, founder of toy set seller My Family Builders.

The evolving export pattern indicates China is substantially moving up the value chain in global trade, said Wei Hao, head of the department of international trade and economics at Beijing Normal University.

"Improved product quality and dynamic sales and distribution channels are contributing to the enhanced profit margin per unit for exports," he noted.

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