We caught up with James Hudson, Director of Government Relations, Corporate Affairs and Marketing of Alibaba, the world’s largest online marketplace about how Queensland exporters can get started.
You studied Mandarin at university, is that right? What was the most rewarding thing about learning a new language?
I started studying Chinese at university. Learning another language not only allows you to engage with people in a more meaningful way, it actually helps you think differently. For me, learning Chinese has been a rewarding journey which has opened doors to many interesting opportunities, conversations, people, cultures and experiences.
When did you start working with Alibaba Group?
I started working at Alibaba in April 2016. Prior to Alibaba Group I worked for the Australia China Business Council and the CSIRO.
What would you say to a Queensland exporter who looked at Alibaba and thought, it’s too hard, I don’t understand it.
Alibaba Group’s mission is ‘to make it easier to do business anywhere’. Through our e-commerce ecosystem, trading with China and some of the 529 million mobile monthly active users on our retail marketplaces in China is easier than it has even been before. Chinese consumers look to Australia for products that showcase our healthy lifestyle.
In fact, Australian products are thriving on Alibaba Group’s platforms. Over 1,300 Australian brands are already using Tmall and Tmall Global — 80% of which entered China for the first time through these platforms. Examples of leading Australian brands include Queensland-based companies like Lucas Papaw and Lorna Jane.
What kind of Queensland exporter should be paying attention to Alibaba?
There is a huge opportunity for all Australian exporters provided by Chinese consumers’ growing demand for quality products and trusted reputations — both of which are met by many Queensland brands and producers.
The fresh food category is also growing category for Australian exporters on our platforms. With Queensland a significant grower of agricultural produce, local food exporters should definitely pay attention to these opportunities.
Whilst food exporters are a clear winner, it is important to remember that Australia is a standout performer in several categories, including mother and baby, health and wellbeing, cosmetics, wine and apparel.
How can Queensland businesses use Alipay? What’s the first step they should take?
Alipay, which is owned by Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial, helps Australian retailers and tourism attractions connect with many of the 1.2 million Chinese visitors coming to Australia each year. Today Alipay is now accepted in thousands of bricks-and-mortar stores across Australia and New Zealand — a number that is growing quickly.
Along with the payment side, Alipay also provides an unparalleled marketing tool for merchants to connect with these visitors through the Alipay Super App.
With China now Australia’s biggest source of visitors — the importance of merchants offering Alipay will only continue to grow.
What’s something most Queenslanders wouldn’t immediately know about Alibaba?
They might not realise that Alibaba Group is much more than a way for merchants to sell products online.
In fact, Alibaba owns and operates businesses to support its entire e-commerce ecosystem. Last year, Alibaba Cloud opened a data center in Sydney as part of a global expansion. Alibaba’s travel site, Fliggy, recently launched a major partnership with Qantas. Alibaba is also working with PwC and local brands in Australia to help combat food fraud.
The Alibaba ecosystem offers powerful tools for brands and merchants and we’re looking forward to connecting with more Queensland companies in the months and years ahead.
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