How Alibaba’s Taobao Goes Social Shopping

Facebook and Twitter both have tried more than once to bring ecommerce capabilities to their networks. Neither has succeeded yet.

Bloomberg is reporting now on how Alibaba is going the opposite direction. The Chinese online retail giant is bringing social and media features to its mobile marketplace Taobao, and, it seems, successfully so:

Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app is a riot of tiny print and icons that allow users to join a chat group for fishing enthusiasts, book a trip and buy a new rod. The one-stop-shop format has resonated with China’s young users, who are spending longer on the site than visitors to Amazon or Twitter Inc.’s mobile sites, and has helped more than double mobile revenue in the most recent quarter.

“To capture the attention and imagination of young people you have to provide more social features,” Alibaba’s co-founder and Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai said in an interview. “We want to continue the sense of community so that they’ll come back and engage with the platform.” (…)

A few months ago, Taobao added video live-streaming for bloggers and merchants to interact with consumers.

Taobao is now at 427 million monthly mobile active users with people visiting the app more than seven times a day amounting to a total of 25 minutes per day.

It is no wonder that Taobao looks very different to a western ecommerce app like Amazon’s:

Alibaba vs. Amazon in mobile

​Tech in Asia has more on Taobao’s social features:

Users can share products and product recommendations with each other. They can ask and answer questions with each other. They can participate in live streams with each other.

“Actually, we tried to build up the connections not only between buyer and the sellers but also between buyers and especially the buyers with same hobbies and preferences,” said Zhang on the call. “They can comment with each other and they can share with each other. And this creates a lot of new demand from customers.” (…)

Years ago, the site’s chat-with-the-seller feature was one of the major reasons it was able to beat out foreign competitor eBay.

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