E-commerce will cease to exist as online marketplaces enable all businesses and blur the distinction between online and offline, the inaugural Con-X conference in Majorca was told this week.
The event was organised by TravelgateX, the fast-growing Majorcan travel XML connectivity specialist and attracted 300 delegates from the global travel sector.
Terry von Bibra, general manager for Europe of the Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, said: “E-commerce will disappear, we believe.
“We believe consumers do not care whether they purchase something offline or online. He cares, she cares, about the convenience, price availability, is it easy to find what they are looking for.
“They care about what was the experience before during and after their trip and for that the distinction between offline and online is irrelevant.”
Bibra said in China Alibaba is helping support the millions of “mom and pop” retailers and businesses to stay in business in the internet age.
“They play a critical role in retail throughout the world,” he said. “How are they going to survive, how can they compete with giant companies with the ability to invest [in technology], with their scale?
“In many countries, here in Europe, many mom pop stores have failed. But in China there are six million mom and pop stores.
“Our company said we do not want to eliminate these companies. We do not want to replace them, we do not want to increase e-commerce’s market share, we want them to survive and serve their customers better.
“We work with them and say you know your customers, they come to your store twice a day. We will give you access to data about what the people in your neighbourhoods are buying.
“We will help you with logistics to get those products in your stores. It’s about how we are going to use our technology, our insights, to help them serve their customers better.
“That is true innovation. The technology is secondary but how we help them is not.”
Bibra said Alibaba’s stated aim is that it will create 100 million jobs through its ecosystem, support 10 million profitable partners and serve two billion customers by 2036.
Alibaba has 636 million users and creates 69 million packaged travel deals a day. It estimates is has created 36 million jobs among partners and is looking to expand into international markets.
“We want to make it easy to do business anywhere. How do we help suppliers easily connect with buyers? Our approach is based on three things: scale partnerships and innovation.
“Through partnerships we are enabling others. We are a platform of platforms doing many things in different ways.”