Alibaba’s Founder and Chairman, Jack Ma, and CEO, Daniel Zhang have released their latest letters to the company’s shareholder’s, outlining the online business’s plans for the future.
Ma has written his final letter to the board as chairman of Alibaba, before he hands the reins over to the company’s current CEO, Zhang. In his letter, Ma noted that he will always be involved in the business as a shareholder and partner and that he’s confident the global business is being left in good hands.
“We now have a leadership team that is ready for the future”, Ma wrote. “Daniel Zhang will lead a team of young, talented people with outstanding business acumen and leadership qualities so that Alibaba will continue to bring positive impact to the world.”
According to Ma, Alibaba will continue on its current trajectory of sustainable growth in line with the business’s mission of “making it easy to do business anywhere.” As a long-term strategy, the Chinese juggernaut’s founder is confident Alibaba will be able to serve two billion global consumers by the year 2036, while also empowering 10 million profitable businesses, generating more than 100 million jobs across the globe.
Alibaba’s Founder and Chairman, Jack Ma.
The likelihood of Alibaba being able to sustain its current growth outlook, however, has been called into question in recent months as United States President, Donald Trump, has continued to escalate his trade war against China. Ma acknowledged these difficulties, claiming Alibaba has overcome global economic downturns in the past, and will again in the future.
“Uncertainties abound in trade relations, consumer trends, stock markets and the manufacturing industry. US-China trade tensions create increased risk of instability,” Ma said.
“Our past experience tells us that there are huge opportunities behind the anxiety and friction. The only question is how we should pivot. Monumental challenges gave rise to the monumental opportunities, and Alibaba is well-positioned because we are adept at weathering diversity.”
Alibaba’s Focus on Globalisation
According to Ma, challenges in global trade has made globalisation an even bigger priority for Alibaba. Over the past three years, the company has created a trading system that serves both small and medium enterprises. Ma says that this system has helped the company begin to realise its goals of “global buy, global sell, global pay, global delivery, and global travel.” A continued focus on the four T’s, trade, tourism, training and technology will be a priority for the business moving forward, according to Ma’s letter.
Zhang reinforced Ma’s notion of Alibaba’s dreams of globalisation, claiming Alibaba is leading the way.
“This will ultimately create one truly globalised digital economy where goods can move freely around the world, and not just from China to the world,” Zhang said.
The Future of ‘New Retail’
The two company heads also believe Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ strategy is paving the way for future opportunities in the cross-channel retail industry.
“Tmall and Taobao, our marketplaces that make up the flagship platform of our New Retail strategy, have seen strong growth as a partner for brand owners and retailers to spearhead digital innovation. More than 1,200 brands have digitised and upgraded a total of over 200,000 offline stores to become ‘smart stores,’” Zhang said.
Alibaba’s CEO and soon-to-be Chairman, Daniel Zhang.
In the last 12-months, Alibaba’s New Retail strategy has started to make more of an impact in Australia, as retailers like Cue, have adopted the company’s technology. The business has also made steps to educate and familiarise Aussie retailers with the technology that’s available to them through store pop-ups and business conferences/expos.
According to both Ma and Zhang, Alibaba is offering connectivity services within its own digital economy, to the benefit of retailers across the globe.
“Our economy not only offers better lifestyles for our consumers, it also serves as the infrastructure that supports enterprises in the process of their digital transformation,” Zhang said.
“The Internet and data technology not only are creating new avenues for sales and distribution, but they also are driving innovation in marketing, consumer asset management, supply chain management, product planning and design, and manufacturing.”
Moving forward, Alibaba will reportedly continue to focus on its cloud computing capabilities, as it looks toward realising its vision to “deliver digital transformation” to all its clients in retail and marketing.
“We are also making comprehensive strategic plans to get ready for the coming era of the Internet of Things. When households, local communities, workplaces, commerce infrastructure and cities all become smart and connected, supported by cloud-computing technology, it will dramatically reshape business processes and lifestyles,” Zhang said.
The last 12-months have proven fruitful for Alibaba, with the company increasing its full-year revenue by 58 percent year-on-year, while active users on its Chinese retail marketplaces jumped up by an extra 110 million consumers by March 2018.
“Alibaba is embarking on an unprecedented development trajectory. Against this backdrop, confidence in our future and in ourselves has never been more important,” Ma said in his closing statements.
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