Promo Marketing Interviews North American Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker Annie Xu
Product-sourcing site Alibaba.com, which connects buyers with foreign manufacturers and suppliers, has already had an impact on our industry. Part of the Taobao/Alipay family of e-commerce sites which are said to control as much as 80 percent of the Chinese e-commerce market, the site is poised to make even further inroads into the promotional industry. After delivering the keynote speech at PPAI's North American Leadership Conference, Annie Xu, general manager for Alibaba.com U.S., spoke with Promo Marketing about the company's future, as well the evolving roles e-commerce and the global marketplace have in the promotional product industry.
Promo Marketing: Can you tell us about your current role in the company and how it's changed over time?
Annie Xu: I have been with the company for a little over 11 years. I started in the product management field, and it evolved to handle marketing and business development. Now I lead a team of 20 in the marketing/business development user-experience/product development in the customer service field. Our team in America focuses on branding and marketing to our targeted buyer audience in America. So we conduct trade shows, we do online events to get the word out about Alibaba marketplace and educate people on how to leverage Alibaba.com to build or grow their businesses.
PM: Can you tell me a little bit about Alibaba.com, in terms of its overall business model, core strategies, etc.?
AX: Alibaba.com is a B2B online marketplace connecting business buyers and sellers all over the world. When it was first started in 1999, up until a couple of years ago, it was primarily an information exchange platform. Meaning people would go on the site, find each other and communicate and complete a transaction offline. So our users are mainly importers, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers and so forth.
Over the years we felt that information alone was not going to be enough. For businesses out there, they are looking for more reliable and [authentic] information. Our strategy is to provide more value. First of all, to ensure that our marketplace is a trusted and safe one. Second, we also want to implement initiatives and solutions to ensure that product quality and suppliers are reliable in the quality area. These two are our key goals moving forward, and we are doing a lot of projects that center around these two goals. For example, in order to provide a more trusted environment we are doing more due-diligence to qualify sellers as well as buyers. We work with a third-party A.M.D., they're authentication and verification company, coupled with our own internal customer service team to do outside checks.