Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang visited the U.S. this week, a trip that included a June 23 appearance at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference in Washington, D.C. In his first U.S. speech since being named chief of the world’s largest e-commerce company by GMV, Zhang pitched Alibaba’s Chinese shopping sites as a direct channel to the Chinese market, while devoting most of his talk to the increasing role that consumer data gathered from online transactions and mobile devices will play in helping merchants—both online and offline—find and win customers.
Alibaba’s online-shopping marketplaces generate about 40 million transactions every day. From these purchases, “we accumulate tons of consumer data,” Zhang said. “We know who is a buyer, what is his home address, we know what is his favorite brands, and we know whether or not he has kids.“ This kind of intelligence is one of Alibaba’s most valuable resources. “We never position ourselves as an e-commerce company only,” Zhang said. “We position ourselves actually as a data company,” likening the vast pools of largely untapped digital information to “oil in the new economy.”
The question, Zhang said, is: “How to use consumer data to help our business partners grow their business in China?” For the answer, watch this edited video of Zhang’s speech.