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Alibaba Group Company’s Management and Electronic Business Report

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Updated: May 26th, 2020

Alibaba Group is a large private internet-based electronic business unit located in Hangzhou, China. The firm has online web portals, search engine for shoppers, cloud computing services, online retail, and an electronic system of payment for its users. In this study, the analysis will be based on the website shown in the appendix 1 of this paper. It is always important to understand that the nature of a business website is always different from that of a personal website. The website in this study is for the business purposes and, therefore, it is expected to have functionalities that are user-friendly.

According to Mack and Casey (2001, p. 89), a good website should enable the consumer to develop a feeling that he or she is in a physical store doing some window-shopping before making the actual purchase. It means that the website should use a combination of both visual and textual strategy that would help answer any question that the customer might have. The website of this company has some features that may make it be classified as a good website because of a number of reasons. It has enough visual images of the products in the store taken from the shelves. In each category of a given product, there are varieties offered for the customers (Shuen 2008, p. 45). The two images show different types of bicycles taken from this website.

Online Store for Bicycles at Alibaba

Bicycles at Alibaba.
Bicycles at Alibaba.

It is clear from the diagrams above that this firm is serious when it comes to offering varieties to the customers. The researcher only takes two samples, but there are numerous types of bicycles, each is with its own price, a detailed description including the brand, and the mode of delivery. The visual image helps the consumer visualize the product he or she is purchasing, while the description helps him or her understand some of the features that make the product special. This makes the shopping experience enjoyable. According to Jones and Silverstein (2009, p. 68), one of the most important factors that a business website should not ignore is the fair pricing of the product. It is likely that a customer may view a number of products before making a decision on where to make a purchase. Customers will ignore a website that does not price its products. The Alibaba website has priced all its products, making it easy for the buyer to make the relevant decision.

The Alibaba website has a number of icons that make it easy for the website user to navigate, especially because the products have been classified into categories and these categories are arranged alphabetically on the extreme left of the web page. The customer only needs to identify the category of the desired product, click on the category, identify the product and this will offer a variety of brands, types, and prices of the products that are available. This shortens the period of shopping whenever one wants to make a purchase in this website. The online payment system makes it easy for the buyers or the suppliers to make or receive payments from this company through online means.

Schmetterer (2003, p. 87) says that a good business website should be simple enough to be used by anyone who can read and follow simple instructions in the website. This is very evident in this website. Everything is so clear, and all that the customer needs to do is to click and then make appropriate payments. In case a customer fails to find the desired product in the current categories, maybe because it is a new product, this website allows the customer to key in the name of the product and a list of options will be displayed. The consumer can then proceed to make a purchase in case the product is available.

May (2000, p. 78) notes that a good website should allow direct and close interactions with the customers in order to determine any feedback from them, send them necessary information, or allow them to ask questions before the purchase. The Alibaba website enables users to create an account with them. Once the customer has an account, he or she can send and receive messages directly from the representatives of the firm. This does not only help in getting the views of the customers about the firm, but also helps in eliminating post-purchase dissonance among the customers. Any of the problems arising from the purchase can easily be addressed by the company.

For those without an account, the website offers them direct help by enabling them to leave a message in the website. The issue will be addressed and a message will be sent to the customer via a message or phone call. Finally, it is necessary to observe that this company has taken the initiative to incorporate the social media to improve direct communication with the consumers in case this may be necessary. The company uses Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube, and LinkedIn to reach out its customers. These create a platform where the firm can engage its users in a constructive debate on their products offered in the market.

Inasmuch as the Alibaba website has so many good features that make it easy to navigate and attract customers, there are some important features that have not been addressed. For instance, the website lacks the visual appeal that may draw the interest of visitors to explore the website. Its choice of colour on its home page may be appealing in the current market in China, but it may fail to attract the attention in other regions where colour means much to the customers. It was also noted with concern that in case one finds themselves in the Chinese version of the website, shown in Appendix 2, there is no option within that webpage that will lead him or her to the English Version or any other language for that matter. This means that such customer will lose his or her way in the website, and no transaction will take place.

Website Business Strategy Alignment

Website business strategy has gained popularity in the recent past as many business units consider moving away from the traditional brick-and-moter business strategy. According to Fox (2012, p. 34), it is important to ensure that the website business strategy is properly aligned to the business goals and objectives. The website strategy is slightly different from the brick-and-moter strategy. Gamse (2011, p. 44) says that while a physical store may have a chance of using signposts to direct customers to the physical stores, the process of implementing the initial website strategy can be very challenging. The firm must find a way of leading the customers to the website so that they can view products that are available for sale. Although the website brings together people from various parts of the world, it can be very challenging to convince customers that a given message is not junk.

According to Dwyer (2003, p. 55), consumers are always irritated by junk messages seeking to advertise a given product that is not even relevant to them. They would dismiss such messages in their e-mails or on the social media without paying any particular attention. This can be very different from the approach that can be taken by a physical store. It may not be easy for a customer to ignore a beautiful supermarket located close to the road. Alibaba has this challenge in its website strategy. This Chinese firm is not as well-known as Amazon.com, especially in the market outside China. In order to align its operations to its goal of becoming a global company, the firm has been making concerted efforts to reach out to the customers using both mass and social media (Werbach 2009, p. 59).

Consumers in the West, especially the middle-aged and the aging populations, always consider advertisements in the mass media as credible. The strategy has been to pull customers to their website using mass media. After creating awareness in mass media, it becomes easy to gain credibility in the social media. Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have been very beneficial in reaching and attracting new customers.

When using the website business strategy, it is important to ensure that the firm creates a platform that will make customers believe that they are shopping in a store. The effort that is always made in the brick-and-moter stores to arrange the shelves to appear attractive to the customers should be the same effort made by the online stores in their website (Shin 2004, p. 63). One way of aligning the strategy with the goals of the firm is to develop an appropriate transaction system. It may be necessary to understand the process of making transactions with the firm’s website. When an individual has chosen the desired price, there is an option as ‘Buy Now’ that the buyer should click, and this would lead to the payment process. The buyer will need to login to the account in order to make the payment.

The process is simple to follow, especially because most of the icons are accompanied by visual images to help the buyer understand the entire process. The process of logging into the account before making transactions was meant to enhance security of the system. The log in details are supposed to be kept secretly by the users in order to protect their accounts with the company. These features are meant to protect customers from fraudsters, who may try to access their accounts through fraudulent means. Another approach would be to maintain an active presence both in the mass and social media to increase awareness of the product among the consumers (Wong 2013, p. 96). This would help the firm achieve its objective of dominating the global market.

According to Craine (2000, p. 67), website business strategy’s main disadvantage is that it may take some time before penetrating the market. Unlike the brick-and-moter strategy, this approach can be easily ignored because of the lack of physical presence. Some consumers also prefer physical stores where they can test the product, especially when purchasing involves expensive goods, such as cars. Online transactions are also prone to be hacked by fraudsters, who may steal from the customers or the business unit. However, the main advantage of this strategy is that it eliminates the geographical barrier that the brick-and-moter stores always encounter.

It also eliminates the cost of rent, cost of development and maintenance of shelves, and the cost of hiring numerous staff to take care of the physical stores. This means that the strategy enables a firm to charge lower prices on its products. The other strategy that is available is the brick-and-moter strategy where products are availed to the customers through physical stores, as opposed to online shops.

Improvement, Recommendations and Business Future Strategy

Developing a web strategy is one of the most important tasks to any business unit operating in the current global society. According to Burby and Atchison (2007, p. 56), consumer’s behaviour is slowly changing as technology transforms families. Most of the families now have limited time to go to brick-and-moter stores because they spend most of their time at work or with their relatives. For this reason, online business has gained massive popularity in the recent past because it enables an individual to make a purchase of the desired product from office, at home, or in any other place as long as the individual has the access to the Internet. Many businesses have considered developing websites to boost their sales in the physical stores while others have become purely online stores.

Craig (2013, p. 23) says that when developing a website strategy, there are a number of factors that should be considered in order to create a platform that would be able to deliver the desired results. In this study, the researcher analyzed the website of Alibaba Group, a Chinese online store, in order to determine the appropriateness of its website in the product offering (Silver 2009, p. 83).

Although it is clear from the description above that the firm’s website strategy has been successful, there are some issues that need to be addressed in order to enable the company to have a successful future of the current business idea. The electronic business strategy is attracting many players, and only those who have excellent strategies will remain successful in the market. Firms such as Alibaba must realize that in the electronic market, the size of the business unit may not be used to define the ability to be successful in the market as the case of brick-and-moter market shows. Therefore,this firm must embrace the best practices in this industry. Based on the above observations, the above recommendations have been considered as appropriate measures that can help improve the future of this firm.

  • The marketing unit in close collaboration with the technical department should consider improving the appearance of the website, especially the home page, in terms of the images and colour.
  • There should be an icon that will enable an individual to change from one language to another with ease when navigating the website. This icon should be strategically located within the website.
  • The website should be aggressively marketed using both social and mass media. The marketing unit has not done enough in popularizing this website, and this should be changed.
  • In order to operate using the website strategy, it is necessary for this firm to ensure that its online store is properly arranged. The images placed in this website should be of high quality.
  • The marketing unit should restructure the textual information in this website. Taking into account that the textual information is too crowded, customers may find it boring during their navigation.

List of References

Burby, J & Atchison, S 2007, Actionable web analytics: Using data to make smart business decisions, Wiley Publishers, Indianapolis. Web.

Craig, R 2013, The Everything guide to starting an online business: The latest strategies and advice on how to start a profitable Internet business, Adams Media, Avon. Web.

Craine, K 2000, Designing a document strategy, MC2 Books, Hurst. Web.

Dwyer, J 2003, Communication in business: Strategies and skills, Pearson Education, Belmont. Web.

Fox, V 2012, Marketing in the age of Google: Your online strategy IS your business strategy, Wiley, Hoboken. Web.

Gamse, P 2011, 42 rules for a Web presence that wins: Essential business strategy for website and social media success, Super Star Press, Cupertino. Web.

Jones, S & Silverstein, B 2009, Business-to-business Internet marketing: Seven proven strategies for increasing profits through Internet direct marketing, Maximum Press, Gulf Breeze. Web.

Mack, C & Casey, G 2001, Business strategy for an era of political change, Quorum Books, Westport. Web.

May, P 2000, The business of ecommerce: From corporate strategy to technology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Web.

Schmetterer, B 2003, Leap: A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken. Web.

Shin, N 2004, Strategies for generating e-business returns on investment, Idea Group, Hershey. Web.

Shuen, A 2008, Web 2.0: A strategy guide, O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol. Web.

Silver, A 2009, The social network business plan: 18 strategies that will create great wealth, Wiley, Hoboken. Web.

Werbach, A 2009, Strategy for sustainability: A business manifesto, Harvard Business Press, Boston. Web.

Wong, G 2013, The comprehensive guide to careers in sports, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington. Web.

Appendix

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

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