“The World is So Small, it’s like the street beside you”- AGLA at the Tmall Global Town

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the B20 Summit last year that “Hangzhou is an innovative and vibrant city with booming e-commerce. Just click the mouse in Hangzhou, and you are connected to the whole world.” The Second Global Cross-border E-commerce Summit showed TMall Global in full global spirit as it gathered its AGLA team, invited international guests and Zhejiang customers to its new Global Town as an offline warm up event to Double 11!

Tmall Global (hereafter TMG) is a subsection of the larger B2C app, Tmall, that is solely concentrated on imported goods from various countries. Due to food safety issues of Chinese-made products, Chinese consumers rely on Tmall Global to buy imported products especially in the category of Beauty, Personal Care, and Mother & Baby products for guaranteed high quality goods. TMG has products from 63 countries, covering 3700 product categories, 14500 overseas brands, of which more than 80% entered the China market through TMG first.

Rather than hosting a traditional product exhibition with swanky product displays and mind-numbing brochures, the TMG marketing team wanted to have some fun instead. We turned our online platform into a Global Town, or World Expo, where consumers can experience our products in new and interesting ways. We built four different pavilions – North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, planted our respective products in each pavilion and breathed life into the exhibition by infusing interactive shows and experiential centers in each region.

Our hosts, Mathieu Ngo-Di and Rilly Chen opened the conference with a special lighting ceremony with Consulate Generals from all over the world including Canada, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain.

Mathieu & Rilly opening the ceremony

This lighting ceremony meant three things for Alibaba and Hangzhou: we lit the connection bridging brands to consumers; we lit the interaction combining offline and online retail; and we celebrated Hangzhou to be one of the major ecommerce cities in the world.

We took our invited international guests on a tour of the venue starting with a special section shaped like an airplane. The airplane is to depict our  [双十一包机直达] which is the dedicated charter flight for TMG’s Double 11, shipping products to our consumers from all over the world within five days of order.globalisation_3.jpg

TMG’s Global Traceability Program 溯源, in Chinese, is another huge emphasis. Due to the amount of counterfeit and sometimes lower quality products produced in China, TMG is using blockchain, big data, its leverage with local and international governments, CCIC (China Certification & Inspection Group), and other third party QA organizations to monitor and control the origin of a product. Traceability is “to find the origin of a product”, this can include the proper manufacturer, production site, or the real brand. The physical part of this program is this Identification ID sticker, as seen here on this bottle of milk from the Netherlands.

globalisation_5.jpgThe ID sticker will show traceability in:

(1) logistics traceability: production, transportation, distribution, customs clearance including exactly which airline route it used to arrive into China

(2) quality traceability: inspection from third party laboratory and quality approval from CCIC

The goal is to have this Identification tag on every single product on TMG within the next three years. The consumer can scan this QR code with their phone and see a video of the pasture that cows are grazing. This is depicted as the “origin” of the product. Below we have Onny Jalink, Deputy Consul-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, watching this video through a pair of Hololens.

Onny Jalink, Deputy Consul-General of Netherlands experiencing TMG VR

Did you know it is mandatory for cows in the Netherlands to be in the sunlight for at least 200 days a year? This is to ensure that the cows maintain a happy mood and thus would produce good quality milk! She must have seen some very happy cows here.

To truly emphasize the key theme of TMG, which is to bring lifestyles of people abroad to China, we designed and built our exhibition modelled after real apartments such as a kitchen from Germany, a baby room from UK, a living room from America, a bathhouse from Japan and a yoga studio from Australia. Check out the streets from New York in the below living room from America!

globalisation_7.jpgIn Europe, we developed a special way for customers to try on make up. Through inspiration from a museum galley, we allowed customers to color in black and white paintings using lipsticks, eyeshadow, and eye liner. That’s a new way to see swatches from cosmetics! Beauty is an art, after all!

In Asia, we finally opened the Noodle Shop 面馆 that we announced on our TMG weibo account in August. But our Japanese noodle shop面馆 sells 面膜 – face masks – instead! Each item on the menu corresponds to a hot-selling face mask on our platform. globalisation_8.jpgCustomers can scan the QR code at the bottom to “order” the face mask they want.

Woah! And make way for the stream of KOL’s, taking our Global Town online! This is one of the ways we are executing our New Retail strategy by combing offline and online retail. By inviting KOL’s to tour these rooms along with us, we enable hundreds of thousands of viewers to experience the Global Town even though they’re not physically present. While the KOL is showing the online viewer a certain product, the link to purchase the product will pop up on the screen allowing online viewers to be shopping the same products that physical guests would if they were in the store.

Ryan & Leela representing America

North America is the land of the free. Here we’ve invited Ryan and Leela to join us in welcoming customers into the North American pavilion.

22 countries of the One Belt One Road initiative have products on TMG. Currently Thailand takes the lead in terms of imported products into China in ecommerce and TMG is the organization doing this facilitation. Recently when Thailand’s economy was hit badly due to the decline in raw material prices such as rubber, TMG helped Thailand to sell latex pillow and latex mattresses (made with rubber) to Chinese consumers thereby helping the local Thai rubber farmers.

Alibaba employs 13 authoritative testing institutions, and invested 100 million RMB last year in quality control. Here we have Platform Governance Manager, Alan Chan, explaining how TMG employs standardization experts in cooperation with the EU, US, Australia, Canada and nine other countries to control quality standards in milk powder, health care products, baby products and food products.

globalisation_11.jpgIt’s really difficult for an average consumer. But the Quality Control team at TMG is here to test these products under a microscope and tell us which one is indeed 100% cashmere and which one is falsely advertised. For all brands who do not display correct information of their products, the platform docks points. If the brand loses enough points, it is hugely damaging for the brand and TMG might take this brand off of its platform altogether. This is how seriously we treat the authenticity of our products on our platform.

Thanks for taking the tour through our Global Town. Until next time! Our Tmall Cat will take you to another magical part of the world!


Sharon Gai is a member of AGLA Class #2, she started her first rotation in the Tmall Global Marketing team where she tells the story of Alibaba’s globalization journey through building Global Towns like this one. She’s believes in the power that a platform like Tmall Global has on international trade, the One Belt One Road initiative and its role in Alibaba’s eWTP.

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