Visiting Alibaba and ALOG with Vlerick Business School

On April 13th we with Asia & Partners (www.asipar.com) helped Vlerick Business School (#1 in Belgium) to organise a day trip to Hangzhou for their EMBA class (about 40 people). We brought the group to headquarters of two China's leading companies: Alibaba Group and ALOG Technologies.
With Vlerick Business School at Alibaba HQ

Learning from Alibaba's success
For most of the people, Alibaba is being associated with a website www.alibaba.com - an online marketplace for buyers and suppliers to find each other and do business. But it is more than that - it has 19 other affiliated companies as part of Alibaba Group.


Some facts about Alibaba:
  • It is Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. 
  • It also provides electronic payment services, a shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. 
  • Alibaba has been the most dominant retailer in the world, generating more gross merchandise volume (GMV) than Amazon.com and eBay combined. 
  • Its online sales & profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined in 2015. 
  • It has been expanding into media and entertainment industry, with revenues rising 3-digit percents year on year.
Mr. Eric Su explaining about Alibaba's Ecosystem
We have invited Eric Su, Alibaba's Global Country Channel Manager, to share his 12-year experience of working in the company. He gave a presentation about Alibaba's values and mission, as well as shared with the audience about company's history and future development. Eric said what drives Alibaba growth and one of the keys of company success: it is passion! Although there are nearly 34 thousand people are working in this internet giant, the average age is 29 years old! Among other aspects, Eric explained business model and how company could maintain exponential growth: by close work with partners. Participants has asked many interesting and got insights about its operation, work with government and the role of the IPO on NASDAQ.

Ordering much at Alibaba's canteen
Observing the future of logistics with ALOG
After we learned about e-commerce business in China, we went to ALOG Technology Logistics (www.alog.com), where Alibaba has also a stake and uses its warehouse management service. VP of ALOG, Ms. Vicky Zhang, who has been with the company for 9 years, said that ALOG’s ace is a big-data computing engine it calls the Warehouse Management System (WMS). It is designed to optimize the efficiency of warehouse “pick-and-pack” operations, filling grocery orders for delivery.


The goal is to minimize the distance that human pickers must travel to fill out common orders. For example, laundry detergent and shampoo are usually placed in close proximity because shoppers tend to buy them together when shopping online. With the system, Zhang said, ALOG is able to adjust its warehouse configurations on a real-time basis as consumer behavior changes according to seasonal, regional and other factors. In addition to determining optimal warehouse layouts, the WMS system automatically selects delivery boxes appropriate for each order by calculating the size and weight of purchased goods, and maps out the best routes for stock pickers to efficiently fill up to a dozen orders at the same time. Before adopting the system, it took about half an hour to get goods out for a single order, Zhang said. Aided by WMS, pickers can fill a 12-item order in an average of just three minutes. ALOG’s pick-and-pack operations today are overall nine times more efficient than they were three years ago.
Ms. Vicky Zhang explains about ALOG's Warehouse Management System by showing real time videos from Guangzhou and Hangzhou warehouses

Overall, it was insightful journey for EMBA class participants from Vlerick Business School to learn about China's e-commerce and logistics. In Asia & Partners we are happy to support and help business schools to arrange such visits. 

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