World's biggest e-commerce firm gets smart
China's Alibaba Group Holding, the world's biggest e-commerce company, formed an automotive unit and 'smart living' division in the past week, it said yesterday, as it ramps up its cloud computing, hardware and big data operations.
Alibaba, like many rival Chinese tech firms, is racing to introduce internet and computing capabilities to various kinds of everyday products, including TVs, home appliances and cars.
This has the €202bn company pitched against rivals like social networking giant Tencent Holdings, search leader Baidu, e-commerce competitor JD.com and smartphone maker Xiaomi.
In this packed field, China's online shopping titan is banking on its big data analysis and cloud computing abilities to provide an edge, as it looks to repeat the successes it has seen in overall e-commerce with more specialised categories.
The automotive business unit includes car marketing services built around Alibaba's big data analysis, online retail site Tmall's car sales section and providing loans to help people buy vehicles, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.
Almost 50 car brands and 10,000 dealerships have partnered with Alibaba in China, the company said. Last month, China's SAIC Motor Corp said it would join forces with the e-commerce company to invest 1 billion yuan (€152m) in a fund to develop internet-connected cars.
Alibaba's new 'smart living' division is comprised of Tmall's electrical appliances online shopping category, some cloud computing operations and online customer-to-customer marketplace Taobao's crowd funding platform, said the firm.