While Alibaba used to offer donations and discounts to nonprofits and other charitable organisations, this new approach to philanthropy is helping to bring different people and sectors up to speed on technology.
With livestreaming becoming a popular way for merchants to communicate with customers, Alibaba is using this marketing tool to help the lives of China’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
Alibaba has provided a platform for livestreaming to rural farmers, allowing them to promote their products and boost their sales to recover from the losses caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Rural farmers only need a mobile phone and network access to start using this technology,” Tung said. “Alibaba also provides livestreaming training to farmers in rural areas.”
The power of livestreaming
According to Tung, Alibaba’s livestreaming platform has low barriers to entry and limitless boundaries that also provides insights and personalisation that help farmers understand market trends and their customers, resulting in better marketing and higher sales.
Taobao, Alibaba’s main e-commerce platform, hosts marketing campaigns for agricultural products as a way to increase awareness among customers and drive traffic to farmers who are livestreaming in Taobao stores.
In 2020, more than 320 million users on Alibaba’s platforms purchased more than RMB100 billion (US$15.26 billion) worth of goods from 832 poverty-stricken counties.
Alibaba’s livestreaming platform has not only provided support to rural farmers in China, but also to people overseas.
At the height of the pandemic last year, demand for coffee in traditional markets like Europe, Japan and South Korea fell sharply, which resulted in Rwandan farmers having nowhere to sell their crops.
To address this issue, Alibaba arranged a livestreaming session to help Rwandan farmers bring their freshly harvested coffee to Chinese consumers.
“This marketing campaign received an overwhelmingly positive result with over 3000 bags of Rwanda’s Gorillas Coffee sold within seconds,” Tung said. “It’s really encouraging to see that livestreaming, as a marketing tool integrated with technology and the power of Alibaba’s platform, not only helped rural farmers in China but also those in other countries overcome the challenges faced during the pandemic.”
Connecting web masters with nonprofits
When it comes to helping charitable organisations, Alibaba has taken helping them to a whole new level by encouraging its engineers to launch the Green Cloud platform. This platform matches and connects engineers with nonprofit or public welfare organisations to help them build websites, apps and respond to their other technical needs.
“Over 5,700 engineers have registered as love geeks on the platform and have provided more than 1000 solutions to over 300 welfare organisations,” Tung said.
The e-commerce company is donating goods with the use of technology by promoting its Goods for Good products, integrating them with Alibaba marketing campaigns throughout the year.
“Our algorithms prioritise the listings of participating merchants which increases the exposure of the goods,” Tung explained. “Goods for Good is a perfect example of how Alibaba integrates philanthropy with its business operations. It also shows how small acts can make a big difference.”
“Consumers nowadays prefer to shop from merchants who they see as sharing the same philanthropy values as them.”
Environmentally friendly initiatives
As of October 2020, Alibaba’s digital payment platform Alipay’s Ant Forest initiative has attracted over 550 million people, planted over 200 million trees and helped cut down 12 million tons of carbon emissions, according to Tung.
Ant Forest, which was launched in 2016, is an online platform that encourages users to lead low-carbon lifestyles. Alipay users can collect energy by making paperless payments, taking public transport, walking, and even cycling in the real world. These points can then be used to grow virtual trees which ultimately convert into real trees planted in arid regions like inner Mongolia and Gansu.
Another one of Alibab’s environmental initiatives is the promotion of eco-friendly packaging materials through its logistics network Cainiao. Close to 40 brands, including L’Oreal and Giorgio Armani Beauty, have already jumped on board this green initiative.
“Positive contributions for the development of communities and societies at large is at the heart of Alibaba,” Tung said. “We want to bring effective and sustainable solutions to the challenges societies are facing. But most of all, we want to create a positive impact through innovation, creativity and technology. These are key elements that go a long way.”