“Made in Internet” will have a dramatic impact on the logistics and financing practices of small manufacturing businesses in the coming years according to the Alibaba-founder Jack Ma, who urged these companies to leverage the Internet and big data in order to adapt to this emerging trend. These changes will also alter their relationships with consumers and suppliers, he added, speaking yesterday at the Global Netrepreneurs Conference.
In a keynote speech at the conference, organized by Alibaba Group to gather together the key players in the global e-commerce community, Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma focused on the so-called ‘Made in Internet’ as a growing trend. He said that during the next 30 years, “Internet, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence will develop at a pace faster than we could have imagined. In the next decade, this will have a huge impact on the manufacturing industry.”
At its core is the consumer-to-business (C2B) manufacturing process, whereby a small business can tap the Internet and big data to obtain and analyse customer data, draw market insights and adapt the manufacturing process accordingly. It may even inspire new product design, he said.
“The C2B supply chain and personalised manufacturing is the future. In the ‘Made in Internet’ era, you can design your products in the U.S., manufacture in Germany, assemble in China and sell them worldwide,” said Ma. “We hope to help SMEs, the younger generation and women to realise their vision of being able to sell globally, buy globally, pay globally and get products shipped globally.”
Given the emerging trend, Ma outlined the strategy of ‘Five News’ proposed last year: New retail, new manufacturing, new finance, new technology and new energy. In the future, new retail will see a merging of online and offline business; new manufacturing will see a change toward the C2B supply chain model; new finance will empower individuals through equal access to financing; new technology will help entrepreneurs capture opportunities through big data and cloud computing; while new energy will be the data intelligence that fuels retailers as they deliver their products to consumers in a much faster manner.
Also speaking at the event, Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group’s CEO, said the discussion should not be limited to the online world: “Today e-commerce is 15 per cent of total retail in China, and our focus is on how to empower the remaining 85 per cent offline retail via the Internet AND create new value for customers.”
The concept of ‘Netrepreneurs’, referring to people who start and run their businesses mainly on the Internet, was introduced by Ma back in 2004. Since then they have become an increasingly significant force in driving the growth of the economy and pushing forward new business innovation.
“Netrepreneurs have increasingly become more diversified, with some moving up the supply chain to truly meet customer needs through insights gleaned from consumer data gathered from their online behavior. These netrepreneurs are leveraging the Internet, our online product development channels, our online sales and marketing channels to not only satisfy existing consumer demand but also to create new demand,” said Zhang.
As more consumers now yearn for high-quality, unique and diversified offerings, such “quality consumption” demand represents unprecedented opportunities for small business to scale-up quickly, added Zhang.