alibaba tmall cat display

Alibaba is looking for small and medium-sized businesses keen to tap into the megawatt potential of its Singles’ Day shopping holiday, which generated $38.4 billion in gross merchandise value in 24 hours last year

The group’s Tmall Global marketplace will hold a virtual event, dubbed the Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest, with an eye toward helping U.S. brands expand overseas. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 4 and brands will make their pitches Sept. 15. 

The winners will be fast-tracked and plugged into the Tmall Global fulfillment program in time for the Nov. 11 shopping festival, where they will be featured on the marketplace.

Tony Shan, head of Tmall Global for the Americas, said: “U.S. small and medium-sized businesses are facing challenges during this unprecedented time, but we know they are resilient and looking for growth opportunities. We hope to inspire and enable many small and medium-sized U.S. brands to grow their business and broaden their customer base, while also bringing more high-quality American products to consumers in China.”

Launched in 2014, Tmall Global has been working to bridge the divide between brands around the world and the huge Chinese market. 

Over the past three months it has taken on more than 100 U.S. brands, including Texas skin-care brand Supergoop, California apparel label Avocado, New Hampshire skin-care brand Badger Balm and California cosmetics company ColourPop.

And the draw of Alibaba might only be growing in the age of COVID-19. 

The company’s revenues increased 34 percent to $21.76 billion year-over-year, and its core commerce revenue, which includes the Tmall Luxury Pavilion, and the new outlet platform Luxury Soho, also grew by 34 percent to $18.9 billion, in the first quarter of fiscal-year 2021, ended June 30.

Income from operations was $4.91 billion, up 42 percent, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased 30 percent to $7.22 billion in the same period.

Alibaba captured 16 million more annual active consumers, reaching 742 million, and recorded 874 million mobile monthly users, an increase of 28 million, in its China retail marketplaces during the quarter.

Daniel Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, said the company is well-positioned to capture growth from the ongoing digital transformation in consumption and enterprise operations.

“We mobilized our entire digital infrastructure to support the economic recovery of businesses across a wide range of sectors, while broadening and diversifying our consumer base by addressing their changing preferences in a post-COVID-19 environment,” he said.

Maggie Wu, chief financial officer, added, “Our domestic core commerce business has fully recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels across the board, while cloud computing revenue grew 59 percent year-over-year. Our strong profit growth and cash flow enable us to continue to strengthen our core business and invest for long-term growth.”

The group also highlighted Lazada’s strong growth in Southeast Asia, Alibaba’s biggest market outside China. It achieved more than 100 percent quarterly order growth and saw solid merchant growth and greater increases in product supplies.

Martin Garner, chief operating officer at CCS Insight, commented that “Like Amazon, Alibaba saw strong growth in its e-commerce businesses across countries. It also saw the flywheel effect, with increasing order frequency and rising average spend. Alibaba’s results provide good clues for other countries that much of the new behavior we saw during the pandemic will stick as the world starts to return to normal, especially in the areas of shopping and cloud services.”

The scale of the company — in the midst of a global battle with Amazon and Walmart for e-commerce and consumer domination — means that it has to be constantly bringing new brands and customers onto its platform to keep up with its own growth and the expanding online market. 

Garner noted: “It’s easy to be blasé about Alibaba posting revenue growth of 34 percent in the pandemic. But it’s important to remember that Alibaba sells goods each year to the value of the GDP of the Netherlands.”

But the company is going to have to stay sharp to continue to fend off competitors abroad and at home.

Earlier this week, the company’s primary rival in China, JD.com, released results for its second quarter, ended June 30. Net revenues grew 33.8 percent to $28.5 billion year-over-year, and income from operations was $700 million, compared to $300 million for the same period last year.

JD.com’s annual active customer consumers increased by 29.9 percent to 417.4 million in the 12 months ended June 30, and mobile daily active users in June increased by 40 percent year-over-year.