Alibaba Kicks Off Inaugural Sydney E-Commerce Expo

Alibaba opened the doors to its e-commerce expo at Sydney’s International Conference Centre on Friday morning. The two-day event has stands for 175 brands and retailers from Australia and New Zealand and is geared towards breaking down the barriers between China’s e-commerce-enabled economy, and Australia’s fast-growing digital environment.

“The 2018 Expo has been designed to engage big businesses already having great success with our online marketplaces like Tmall and Tmall Global, as well as SMEs who are looking for knowledge and support to tap into the Chinese market,” says Maggie Zhou, the managing director for Alibaba Australia and New Zealand.

According to Zhou, the expo also represents an opportunity for Australian pureplay and multichannel retailers to learn more about Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ technology, as the online juggernaut – in collaboration with its ecosystem of partners – offer live demonstrations and first-hand experiences with its latest tech.

Alibaba Sydney
Alibaba’a ‘Magic Mirror’ on display at Sydney’s expo.

The displayed AR tech includes Alibaba Cloud’s “Magic Mirror”. The mirror allows consumers to use real-time personal images to experiment with different beauty looks. This product is designed to help drive sales for brand merchants.

The expo’s main attraction in terms of AI tech is the “Cloud Shelf”, which provides retailers with the capabilities to stock virtual products on their shelves that are available to order online, creating a truly omnichannel shopping experience.

Alibaba
Alibaba’s ‘Cloud Shelf’.

However, Zhou believes the showcase of Alibaba’s Hema supermarket features is also a drawcard for attendees. Similar to Amazon’s cashier free supermarkets, Hema Supermarkets use QR codes to allow shoppers to access product information, while payments can be made directly through their mobile devices.

Alibaba
Hema Fresh, as displayed at Alibaba’s Sydney conference.

Australia’s Slow Adoption of Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ Tech

This technology has been widely adopted by both retailers and consumers in China but not in Australia. James Hudson, the director of corporate affairs and marketing for Alibaba Group said earlier this year that our slow adoption of QR codes and a lack of new technology are holding the Australian industry back.

Given the results of a recent study conducted by Rakuten Marketing, which revealed only two percent of Aussies shop exclusively online, there is truth in this statement. The marketing firm’s research also discovered that the Australian e-commerce industry has experienced the lowest levels of growth out of every market in the APAC region in recent years.

In Australia, there are only a few examples of Alibaba’s e-commerce technology in action, including Cue’s ‘Style Finder’ mobile shopping feature, and The ICONIC’s similar visual search tool, ‘Snap to Shop’. Each of these e-commerce shopping tools allows users to upload images to the apparel retailers’ sites or mobile apps, and look for similar products.

According to Cue’s Chief Information Officer, Shane Lenton, Alibaba Cloud makes this process simple.

“Our 30 plus new styles are photographed each week for our e-commerce store. These images are named and uploaded to the Alibaba cloud image search solution via our Application Programming Interface (API) integration where they are scanned and indexed.

“When a customer uses the image search feature on our mobile website, this image is pushed via API to the Alibaba cloud image search solution for processing and then the solution returns the styles that are the closest match and we display these styles for the customer in order of relevance to view and shop.”

Alibaba’s Sydney conference will run for two days, showcasing AR and AI tech, as well as exhibitors from across the country. It will also host a number of keynote speakers, including the likes of Seafolly‘s Global Strategy Director, Rachael Germann.

The Alibaba e-commerce expo will also be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre on October 18 and 20.

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