Alibaba boss bullish on Aussie prospects

jack-ma-2Eastern e-commerce giant Alibaba is preparing to ramp up its Australian and New Zealand operations, following the launch of its office Down Under over the weekend.

Alibaba chairman and co-founder Jack Ma said the company has already begun working on establishing stronger relationships with the local government, businesses and universities to better enable Aussie brands to navigate the intricacies of the Chinese market.

Speaking to an audience of dignitaries and businessmen at their office opening ceremony, Ma repeatedly stressed the importance of training Australian businesses to do better business overseas, singling out young people as the focus group for the future.

“Selling is not easy, we need to ask how we can work with universities, chamber of commerce and [businesses] to train and develop more young people to sell better,” Ma said. “Australia could be the best market and partner for China […] simplicity of life, respect of culture and respect of the environment – that’s what we should bring to China.”

Ma was bullish about his company’s prospects in Australia, outlining his goal to serve two billion customers by partnering with 10 billion profitable small-to-medium scale businesses in the next 20 years.

He said that Australian brands are still under estimating the demands for their products in China, pointing out that the country is quickly becoming a consumer economy predicated on importing.

“The gold mine for Australia and New Zealand in the next 20 years is clean water, soil and the air,” Ma said. “We have more than 300 million people in the middle class and in the next 10-15 years we will have close to 500m middle class.

“We need high quality products, we need high quality services and China today isn’t able to produce that.”

Ma also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding at the event between Alibaba and Australia Post, which saw both companies pledge to work towards streamlining supply side operations for partners looking to export into China.

The memorandum was signed by Alibaba’s Australian boss, Maggie Zhou, who has been operating in the country for the last nine months, laying the foundations for the company’s expansion.

The likes of Australia post are already helping brands establish a retail presence through Alibaba, but the future of business in China won’t be purely e-commerce based, Ma said.

“The online business can’t last forever, without working online and offline together things won’t work. We want to work together to empower traditional retail,” he explained.

Referencing Alibaba’s recent privatisation bid for Chinese department store chain in time, Ma left the door open to helping Australian businesses to establish a physical presence in Chinese stores.

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