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Alibaba set to take on Las Vegas by staging rival consumer electronics show in Shenzhen

Alibaba will partner with German group in staging consumer electronics show in April to rival the annual international CES event in Las Vegas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 January, 2016, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2016, 4:27pm

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group is making a big foray into mainland China’s trade exhibition industry this year, with an eye to drum up more business for its online retail operation.

The Hangzhou-based company’s Tmall.com business-to-consumer platform has partnered with the organisers of the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, more widely known as the IFA, to stage the inaugural “Consumer Electronics China” show in Shenzhen from April 20 to 22.

Yin Jing, Alibaba’s general manager for 3C products and home appliances, announced that alliance and competitive domestic trade show in his speech last week at the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

He did not provide details on the companies expected to participate in the event, but assured that a number of global brands and start-ups would attend as well as open their stores on Tmall.

The annual IFA show, which is organised by the German Association for Entertainment and Consumer Electronics in cooperation with Messe Berlin, is one of the world’s leading trade shows for consumer electronics and home appliances.

Sandy Shen, an analyst at technology research firm Gartner, yesterday said Alibaba’s efforts to establish a major new trade show will not only help suppliers in Shenzhen, but also Tmall’s competitiveness as an online e-commerce platform for so-called 3C products -- computers, communications and consumer electronics.

“Alibaba wants to grow the consumer electronics business on Tmall, which is still dwarfed by JD.com,” Shen said.

Recent data from iResearch show that the gross merchandise value for online shopping of 3C products on the mainland reached 168.06 billion yuan (HK$198.07 billion) in the first half of last year.

Tencent Holdings-backed JD.com cornered a 59.20 per cent share of that market segment, while Tmall had a 27.10 per cent share, according to iResearch.

Shen said the planned new mainland trade show with the IFA organiser “can help Tmall differentiate from JD’s consumer electronics business by becoming a platform for new and innovative products”.

The German association behind the IFA has 14 corporate associates, including high-end domestic appliances maker Miele, Dutch electronics giant Philips and the German units of Samsung Electronics, Sony, Sharp and Panasonic.

“The new trade show will help Alibaba expand its consumer technology ecosystem,” Forrester Research analyst Charlie Dai said.

For consumer electronics suppliers based in Shenzhen, the new Alibaba-backed trade show could help give a much-needed boost to their sales amid the country’s lingering economic slowdown.

“Shenzhen is the hub of hardware technology innovation in China, so the show is an opportunity for local businesses to present their products to a wider public audience,” Shen said.

New York-based research firm eMarketer last month forecast mainland China’s total retail e-commerce sales in 2018 to increase 133 per cent to US$1.568 trillion, up from an estimated US$672 billion last year.