Entrepreneur

We Went To The Taobao Maker Festival, And Saw The Future Of E-Commerce As Jack Ma Is Dictating It

Most of us would probably be familiar with Taobao, the online shopping haven with millions of products.

But what most may not be familiar with is the Taobao Maker Festival. Granted, this is only its second year in running, but the festival may well be an iconic event in the retail industry in the years to come.

To the thousands of attendees attending the festival at Hangzhou, the homeland of Alibaba and Taobao, it is probably a chance to check out some of the most popular Taobao brands up close and personal, but it is much more than that.

Out of 20,000 merchants, only 108 merchants were shortlisted to be at the festival, and to the selected ones, this marks as a validation to the hard work that they have been putting in to their online brand.

Some of the featured merchants include fashion brands, electronic brands, and sneaker brands, along with a wide array of other lifestyle brands.

As part of the festival, Taobao also specifically designed all exhibition areas and booths to showcase the individual stories behind the brand:

Image Credit: Taobao
Image Credit: Taobao

Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group, said: “The inaugural Taobao Maker Festival last year wowed people in China and beyond with its impressive line-up of original designs and trendsetting products that embodied the innovative thinking of China’s younger generation.”

“This year, we hope to further promote this ‘Maker Youngster’ spirit, recognising it as the key driving force behind a generation of Chinese entrepreneurs and customers who place originality, quality and human well-being at the center of consumption and their way of living.”

Image Credit: Taobao
Image Credit: Taobao

On top of the booths, there was also a main stage where performances highlighting creativity and subculture were held.

In between the performances, there were also sessions where selected Taobao store owners were interviewed on stage. What was interesting is that all of the store owners and entrepreneurs were highly-celebrated and they were treated as ‘celebrities’ of the festival – with member of the audience cheering them on, and waiting for a chance to speak to them.

Framestore, the Oscar-winning creative studio behind the blockbuster film Guardians of the Galaxy, was the visual effects partner of this year’s Taobao Maker Festival.

What I Took Away From The Festival And Trip To The Alibaba Campus

Taobao Maker Festival was an event that I was glad to have had a chance to experience personally.

While we always hear how the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, preaches about how the future belongs to the youth, Taobao Maker Festival was a physical testament to that – entrepreneurs (or ‘makers’) are making a decent living building their brands on Taobao.

And as an enabler, Taobao helped showcased the stories and inspiration behind some of the best online Taobao brands physically to the world.

Thousands of Taobao enthusiasts flocked to have a chance to meet with the brand owners – something that would not have been possible without the Taobao Maker Festival.

We also had a chance to visit the Alibaba campus at Hangzhou and learn about the overall Alibaba ecosystem.

Alibaba’s campus / Image Credit: Inhabitat

Here are some valuable takeaways we got from it.

  1. Alibaba claims to be the world’s largest retail platform. As of March 2017, close to 80% of companies on Forbes Word’s Most Valuable Brands list are on Tmall, including brands like Burberry, Maserati, Apple, Leica, Starbucks, and more.
  2. Alibaba’s 10-year target is a 72-hour delivery period to any customer worldwide.
  3. In the future, a mobile phone is all you need to do business globally.
  4. Alibaba Cloud (AliCloud), a subsidiary of Alibaba, is extending application of its artificial intelligence technology into real-time traffic prediction in a collaboration with the Hangzhou government to alleviate road congestion. This marks the many integration of Alibaba’s products into the Chinese infrastructure ecosystem, signalling that Alibaba is here to stay for decades to come.
  5. Alibaba is also working with the authorities to combat fake products. Last year, with the help of Alibaba, more than 1,000 leads were provided to law enforcement authorities, resulting in 880 suspects arrests and the seizure of 3B Yuan worth of merchandises.
  6. Alibaba is actively supporting China’s push of the Belt And Road initiative, a development strategy proposed by China’s leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between countries around the world. In Southeast Asia, the infrastructure network falls through Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. This probably explains why Alibaba chose to set up its regional distribution hub in Malaysia.
Image Credit: The Star

One thing’s for sure, though, we are definitely going to hear a lot more from Alibaba over the next few years.

 

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