, China

Alibaba rolls out measures easing merchant operations

Taobao will waive deposit fees for new merchants, with refunds for existing sellers.

Alibaba Group has rolled out a new set of measures for Tmall and Taobao, aiming to reduce costs and to lower entry barriers for those looking to join the two online marketplaces, the company announced in a press release.

Starting 19 April, merchants from the cosmetics, personal care, household supplies and mother and child sectors, can open official Tmall stores passing a seven-month operation-capability assessment.

For reducing merchant costs, Taobao will waive the deposit fees for new merchants, and existing sellers will receive a refund on their deposits. Tmall merchants with high credit scores can also apply to reallocate up to 50% of their deposit for daily operational use.

As of early March, over 140,000 merchants had applied to move over $613.35 m (RMB4b) to store operations.

Both platforms will also waive the premium on a range of marketing tools and services designed to improve merchants’ marketing and business analytics capabilities. Merchants’ logistics costs, such as those related to customer returns, are set to be lowered.

Further, Tmall and Taobao have started offering one-on-one customer support service to their merchants in April. On the business operations and communication platform Qianniu, new Taobao merchants can connect with service officers for tailored training and inquiries.

Taobao merchants can also visit Taobao business operation centers to receive local support, including those in Guangzhou, Foshan and Chaozhou, Guangdong Province and. Jinhua, Zhejiang Province.

More centers are opening in industry belts across China, including Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, Nantong, Jiangsu Province, Xiamen, Fujian Province and Huizhou, Guangdong Province.

Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said in a call with investors that ongoing technological improvements and upgrades have enabled the company to expand its portfolio of services, offering them for free or at lower costs than before to merchants and partners.

The company expressed plans to invest more in merchants’ training and optimize their back-end workstations to improve operational efficiency. In addition, it has earmarked billions of RMB in additional annual spending to support merchants in the coming years.

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