Alibaba pushes further into new retail with expanded merchant tools

1 min read
A Tmall advertisement promotes the brand in a Shanghai mall on March 22, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Cassidy McDonald)

Alibaba broadened its merchant services and tools in an effort to improve fulfillment efficiency, it announced at the E-commerce Development and Innovation Summit in Hangzhou yesterday.

The company’s customer experience business unit said that it had opened its service operating system to merchants and launched an upgraded version of its Fulfillment by Tmall 2.0 (FBT) service platform.

Why it matters: The launch of the upgraded FBT solution is another move in the ongoing retail battle between Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent. Alibaba sees the commercial operating system as a key driver in the digitization process, shifting its platforms closer to realizing founder Jack Ma’s concept of new retail, or the integration of online and offline commerce.

  • Merchants that integrate their operations with the FBT gain access to a range of tools. They are able to view, for example, visual maps of process data to identify sales spikes, as well as set up early warning and active service systems to help to identify supply chain issues for faster resolution.

Details: FBT has been in testing for almost two years, with Procter & Gamble and home appliance maker Haier Group among the first batch of merchants to join FBT.

Context: Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang previously launched the Alibaba commercial operating system in January, as part of its A100 Strategic Partnership program to help enterprises realize digital transformation across the Alibaba ecosystem.

  • The operating system can serve enterprises in 11 different areas including logistics and supply chain, customer services, and communication management.
  • The move has been seen as a continuation of a race to snap up leading retailers and lock them into Alibaba or Tencent’s service ecosystems.