Business / Technology

Internet innovation set to drive China's growth

By Meng Jing and Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-08 07:38

Internet innovation set to drive China's growth

Internet-enabled innovation is set to play a major role in fueling China's economic growth, after the draft outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) indicated that the central government is placing strong emphasis on the development of the Web-based economy.

Although the rapid development of China's e-commerce sector is a perfect example of how the application of Internet technologies can expand domestic consumption, some ambitious players believe that there is still huge potential after the so-called Internet Plus strategy successfully revolutionized the retail industry.

Alibaba Group Holdings, China's largest e-commerce player, recently announced that it wants to offer a wider range of services to "empower" traditional retailers and improve their business prospects in the digital era.

A new vision

"Retailers need to ditch the idea that e-commerce is merely another sales channel for their products," Zhang Yong, CEO of Alibaba Group, said on March 1, at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. He added that Alibaba can offer many advantages because of its strong technical capacity and vast pool of consumer data.

"We want to help retailers break the information wall for products, services and memberships between the online and offline channels," he said.

Many retailers have separate systems to sell products online and offline, which requires two different methods of branding, pricing, inventory and membership management. Zhang said it is important for customers to get the same products, services and shopping experience, no matter which channel they use to make purchases.

For example, if shoppers buy a pair of trousers from, say, Uniqlo online, they can choose to pick them up at their related nearest outlet, and even have the length changed in-store, if required. Moreover, if the customer has a membership card for the chain in question, which guarantees a discounted price, they can still claim the discount when they purchase the goods online.

Alibaba's initiative to help brands build a "seamless omni-channel shopping experience" comes amid the rising trend of online-to-offline business in China, in which e-commerce platforms bury the hatchet with brick-and-mortar businesses after years of fierce competition.

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