Alibaba unveils pilot China factory as part of ‘smart manufacturing’ initiative

Chance Chan / Reuters

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Wednesday unveiled a pilot factory in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou as part of its “smart manufacturing” business initiative.

The announcement marks a continuation of Alibaba‘s expansion beyond its core business of e-commerce and into sectors on other parts of the online retail supply chain.

In a statement, Alibaba said the factory, run by an internal division called Xunxi Digital Technology Company, at present will primarily work with apparel companies. The company in an explanatory video said it will use data it garners from e-commerce traffic, searches and sales to help brands anticipate what items will be popular and bring them to market quickly.

In 2016, Alibaba founder Jack Ma identified “new manufacturing” as one of five trends he referred to as future business opportunities for Alibaba.

The others were “new retail,” “new technology,” “new finance” and “new energy”.

The move into manufacturing comes as China‘s e-commerce players look for ways to work more closely with the country’s legions of factories.

Rival Pinduoduo Inc rose to prominence in China‘s online retail sector by enticing manufacturers to sell directly to consumers.

Alibaba‘s opening of the factory also marks another move into the offline realm for the e-commerce giant.

In 2016 the company opened its first Freshippo store, marking its foray into offline grocery retail. The chain now has hundreds of outlets across China.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.