China’s online retail giant and number one challenger to Amazon’s online dominance, Alibaba, officially opened their first Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) headquarters in Melbourne last Saturday.
With transactions that total more than eBay and Amazon combined, Alibaba dominates the Chinese market. Worth over $200 billion, they have 434 million users on their platform which is an indication of their wide scale success.
Founder, Jack Ma, spoke about the motivation behind this move at the grand opening. They aim to increase the number of Australian products sold on their website while strengthening Australian businesses. By building the infrastructure for regional businesses, they are hoping global expansion will become possible.
The deal aims to encourage more Australian products to be exported to China with the promotion of SME’s in the state and nationally.
The potential of the Chinese market has not gone unnoticed for many ANZ business owners, with 1300 Australian and 400 New Zealand businesses using the ecommerce platforms Tmall and Tmall Global to get their own piece of the Chinese market.
Alibaba’s opening reflects the huge potential of ecommerce in the Australian market, with Amazon also rumoured to open in Australia around September 2017.
Ma reiterates this potential, citing Australia and New Zealand’s protection of the environment as a key reason for their interest in the region. This is especially prominent compared to China’s high pollution levels.
“Australia is a gold mine. The next gold mine… The clean water, the soil and the air, this is what you have, the most unique asset,” Ma explained.
However, the clean environment was not the only factor contributing to their choice of Melbourne as the location for their ANZ headquarters. The Victorian government have reportedly also provided financial supports and ‘incentives.’
Ma stated that although the support was unnecessary, he vowed to reinvest that money into promoting Australian small businesses and creating infrastructure for Australians to expand their businesses offshore.
With the environment in mind, Australian businesses have an unusual niche in the Asian market; air.
Australians capture air from well-known locations like Bondi Beach and Yarra Valley and bottle it into aerosol cans to sell to Asian buyers. In a pollution-heavy environment, this market has gained significant attention from China and India.
The product has sold up to $1 million and illustrates Alibaba’s use as a platform for Australians to expand their businesses.
Jack Ma has large ambitions for the future of Alibaba.
“Our vision in the next 20 years is to create 100 million jobs, serve a population of 2 billion and we want to make 10 million businesses profitable on our platform.”
After opening a data centre in Sydney late last year which focused on cloud computing, Alibaba’s new headquarters marks another chapter in their international expansion.