Alibaba’s Smart City in Macau: Retail in a World of Conglomerates


The largest online retailers are becoming, or, actually, already are, online conglomerates. Amazon and Alibaba run far more businesses than “just” e-commerce related ones. As digitally everything is far more connected to everything else than before, this means more opportunities to build completely new kinds of businesses by simply combining separate fields. And frankly, most of these opportunities remain exclusive to those big giants.

Case in point:

China Money Network on Alibaba partnering with Macau on Smart City projects:

The partnership is for four years. In the first phase from 2017 to 2019, the collaboration will focus on cloud computing, smart transportation, smart tourism, smart healthcare, and smart city governance, as well as talent development. At a later stage, the scope of collaboration will expand to environmental protection, economic forecasting and customs clearance.

Alibaba has launched similar smart city initiatives in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Other Chinese technology conglomerates are also eyeing this market. Tencent Holdings Ltd. said in May that its cloud unit, Tencent Cloud, had made cooperation deals with 14 provinces and over 50 cities in China to help them develop AI technology. Last month, Baidu Inc. signed an agreement with the government of Shanxi province to integrate artificial intelligence into city management. […]

In Macau, Alibaba will leverage the analysis of visitors to the city to provide target consumer marketing tools. It will offer insight-driven guided tours, convenient mobile payments and customized online promotions at the airport, commercial districts, tourist sports, convenience store and restaurants.

Alibaba’s Alizila

Alibaba will support Macau in leveraging the analysis of visitors and consumer targeting. The idea is that, in the future, tourists visiting Macau will have access to insight-driven guided tours, with convenient mobile payments and customized online promotions in multiple locations. […]

Alibaba kicked off its smart city program in October 2016, launching the Hangzhou City Brain, based on artificial intelligence and deep learning. That system sends out instant traffic alerts and route suggestions, offering real-time predictions of traffic movement to reduce congestion. The system, piloted in Xiaoshan District, has improved traffic speed by up to 11%.

(highlights by me)

For a company supplementing the public infrastructure of a city like this, the new commerce options available become numerous. See the highlighted passages above. Besides those, having deep insights into the traffic situation and development over time allows for better logistics coordination, for example.

It will take years for initiatives like this to bear fruits. But those fruits are going to be large and delicious.

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One comment

  1. […] you compete on your own against a conglomerate like Alibaba or […]


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