Alibaba offers cloud computing for Southeast Asia’s retailers to embrace digitisation and big data
Alibaba Group Holding, the world’s largest e-commerce services provider, is making a push into Southeast Asia by offering a suite of cloud computing solutions to help retailers embrace digitalisation and provide the kind of online-offline shopping experience that is already commonplace in China.
A suite of computing solutions ranging from cloud architecture and machine learning to the internet of things (IoT) and security will be on offer, according to an announcement made by Alibaba Cloud in Singapore. It is the first cloud computing conference outside China hosted by the Alibaba unit.
The solutions from Alibaba Cloud are a step to help Southeast Asian retailers jump on the bandwagon of the so-called new retail concept. This combines online sales and marketing, offline showrooms and physical stores with logistics, big data analysis across a single value chain to deliver a seamless blend of online and offline shopping experiences.
“This new suite of offerings includes products that are highly efficient, cost effective,” said the cloud computing unit’s chief solution architect, Derek Wang. “Some of them are the first of their kind in the industry.”
The push into Southeast Asia, with a combined population of 550 million people, is part of the strategy of Hangzhou-based Alibaba to serve 2 billion consumers by 2036, handling 1 trillion yuan (US$144.6 billion) in gross merchandise volume.
Retailing in China has already been transformed in the last two years by the notion of new retail, where cashless payments, smartphone ordering, location services and big data analysis have combined to let consumers buy anywhere and pay any time. Now, Alibaba wants to push the same concept outside China.
In March, Alibaba assigned co-founder Lucy Peng Lei to chair its Singapore-based e-commerce platform Lazada Group, the leading online commerce operator in Southeast Asia. Three months later, in June, Alibaba invested a further US$1 billion to raise its Lazada stake to around 83 per cent to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia.
The Southeast Asia push is also a crucial step to give Alibaba the edge in cloud computing, where the Chinese company is the world’s third-largest provider after Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
Alibaba signed a deal earlier this year to help Malaysia adapt its Smart City system, which will harness artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing to support the country’s digital transformation and help cities run more efficiently. The Chinese company was also in discussions with the Thai government to set up a logistics centre as part of its aggressive expansion into the region.
The series of products launched in Singapore included a machine learning platform that enables customers with limited background in artificial intelligence easy access to Alibaba Cloud’s AI capabilities, a software solution that protects users from online scalpers and crawlers, as well as a cost-effective, easy-to-use online backup service to protect critical business data.
New York-listed Alibaba, the parent company of the South China Morning Post, also announced a plan to recruit 150 partners and train 600 sales and technology personnel in the next year to fuel the growth of its ecosystem in Southeast Asia. It will also partner with the National University of Singapore to help the city-state further develop its capacity for smart infrastructure.