Alibaba fest to celebrate innovations by young Chinese

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By Bhavana Akella 

Hangzhou (China), Sep 12: Hundreds of young Chinese entrepreneurs are revving up to showcase their smart technologies and products at Taobao Maker Festival of e-tailer giant Alibaba from Thursday in this ancient city, 180 km southwest of Shanghai.

“The festival celebrates the creativity of merchants, especially from the younger generation, on our online marketplace Taobao. The four-day event will draw inspiration from this great city’s rich heritage and folklore,” an Alibaba spokesperson told IANS here.

Taobao, meaning “search for treasure” in Mandarin, is Alibaba Group’s digital platform, opened in 2003 for consumers to buy and sell a variety of goods, ranging from electronics, home appliances, furniture, clothing etc.

The third edition of the fest, being held in the provincial capital of Zhejiang and where $40-billion Alibaba is headquartered, will have over 200 Taobao merchants displaying their products and technologies and talking about them to consumers.

Among the products and technologies at the fest are robots, electronic gadgets, fashion accessories with innovations, furniture, three-dimensional (3D) cartoons, inventive takes on traditional Chinese porcelain and bamboo products.

Several hundreds of consumers are expected to attend the annual fest from across China.

Being held near the iconic West Lake in the city’s downtown, the fest is aimed at sparking creativity among the Chinese youth, the spokesperson said.

“As the fest is to celebrate innovations, we will have no transaction or promotion of goods during the event. It’s a platform for the makers to share their product concepts and tech stories. The fest is to inspire people to become creative in all respects,” noted the official.

Several goods sold online on Taobao have unique concepts and stories associated with them. The fest provides a common platform for the sellers to share the stories behind their innovations with the buyers.

Beijing-based data analysis firm Analysys ranks Taobao as China’s top mobile commerce platform in terms of sales.

According to data from the company in June, Taobao had a total of 634 million monthly active users, a majority of which are young Chinese aged between 19-38.

Many consumers who attended the previous two editions of the fest have turned merchants, inspired by others.

“The grand event has become not only an annual gathering of entrepreneurs to demonstrate their creativity, but also a window for the world to understand China’s aspirational young consumers,” the official reiterated.

The 19-year-old Chinese conglomerate has been hosting the fest since 2016, as an offline technology and product expo, offering a forum for hundreds of merchants and consumers to interact with one another.

Around 80 per cent of the Group’s e-tail sales are generated from mobile terminals of its portals, including Alibaba.com, Tmall and AliExpress. Taobao is a major contributor to these sales.

Co-founded in 1999 by Chinese teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma with 17 other partners (investors) as a platform to connect Chinese manufacturers with the world, Alibaba is one of the largest global firms, with 86,833 employees and millions of e-sellers.

Alibaba Group’s businesses and affiliates include its e-tail portals Alibaba.com, Taobao, Tmall and AliExpress, film-making firm Alibaba Pictures, cloud computing platform Alibaba Cloud, financial services company Ant Financial, new retail grocery stores Hema among others.

The fest is being held days after the company’s co-founder and Executive Chairman Ma announced a succession plan on Monday, appointing the Chief Executive Daniel Zhang as the group’s next Chairman from September 2019.