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IN DEPTH: 20 Years of Alibaba’s growth
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20 Years of Alibaba’s growth
By Karen Wang

ALIBABABJust as the dot com trend was about to end, Alibaba made its entry into the realm of the online marketplace. And after completing 20 years in 2019, Alibaba has become one of the biggest online platforms for shopping, giving neck-and-neck competition to the likes of eBay and Amazon.

And this is not only in eCommerce; Alibaba has also ventured into the financial sector (Ant Financial), Cloud systems (Alibaba Cloud), mobile marketplace (Taobao, Tmall, AliExpress), and much more.

BT 202008 INVESTMENT 02By the 1st Quarter of 2020, Alibaba had a cumulative roster of 726 million active online buyers.

From Plinth to Paramount

BT 202008 INVESTMENT 03Alibaba’s story is nothing less than a 21st-century fairy tale. The founder, Jack Ma, who is today an inspiration for every businessman and entrepreneur, was turned down for 30 jobs.

When Jack Ma established Alibaba and 1688.com, he gathered 17 students and friends to start their online store based out of a small apartment in Hangzhou. The journey may not have been swift or smooth, but it has been memorable, motivated by the sheer will of Jack Ma and his team.

Making of the Alibaba Group

In the beginning, there were only 1688.com and Alibaba, the former being a B2C platform and the latter a B2B marketplace. But that is not all. Right at the beginning of the 21st Century, SoftBank invested $20 million in Alibaba, and then came Taobao.com.

Taobao imitated eBay and provided a C2C platform to the people of China. After the introduction of Aliwangwang and Alipay, another round of funding brought $82 million into Alibaba.

The Chinese policies for the betterment of local businesses helped Alibaba to a great extent. Due to these pro-local policies, Alibaba formed a strategic partnership with Yahoo in 2005, followed by the introduction of Taobao University, Alimama, and TMall. The missing pearl was Alibaba’s own Research and Development wing on its 10th Anniversary in 2009.

A few other events made headlines, such as the giant leap when Alibaba got its first IPO with $25 billion. In 2016, Alibaba was named not only as the most valuable, shadowing the likes of Walmart and Amazon.

BT 202008 INVESTMENT 04Alibaba's STP marketing model

Alibaba is aiming to serve around one billion customers by the year 2024. Becoming a retailer for these large numbers of people does not come without proactive strategizing and result-oriented policymaking.

Strategy, Targeting, and Positioning––these are the models of Alibaba’s marketing portfolio. By using a mix of demographics, psychology, and customer behaviour segmentation, Alibaba promotes its plan to sell and market the right product to the right customer.

Targeting Strategy

Alibaba has more than 560 million internet users in China who spend up to 20 hours online. This opens up several avenues for the eCommerce giant to target their customers. More importantly, Alibaba’s product offering is for people of every age, from new-born infants to 100-year-old adults. They have something to offer to everybody. Alibaba has created a supply of products, and they work on creating the demand. The Supply Creates its own Demand model seems to be working for them.

Promotional Strategy

Yet another level of marketing exercised by Alibaba is promoting the brand. By offering free items or articles to their clients and customers, they are increasing the number of customers that visit their store, and this gives them a chance to re-market and target those customer with personalized products and recommendations.

Affiliations and Partnerships

BT 202008 INVESTMENT 05Alibaba is not limited to mainland. Although it has a huge consumer base here, the expansion plans are evolving. For instance, in India, Alibaba has partnered with One97 Communications to launch Paytm.

Alibaba has become part and parcel of digital payments, online shopping, travel bookings, paying bills, and even buying gold. So, everything is covered on one platform. These are the kinds of investment that allow this company to enter global markets and gain profits with ease.

Real-Time Market Analysis with the help of IT

Alibaba has an extensive communication platform that is utilized to assess the market positioning and changing trends in real-time. There is a dedicated team that further develops innovative technologies and platforms to help users.


A company that has blanketed the global eCommerce market with its strategies, a brand that is promoted through sheer effort, persistence and planning––this represents a man’s dream that we are studying, observing, and scrutinizing. Alibaba has really change the online shopping world today.

The past 20 years have been like a roller coaster ride for Alibaba and its various organizations. In the coming years, can we expect a much bigger growth rate? Will Alibaba be able to serve one billion customers by 2024? Time will tell.



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