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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Business -> 
Alibaba’s big data helping exporters pivot to domestic market
    2020-09-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

AS export orders started plummeting in March amid the coronavirus’s global spread, Chinese toothbrush maker Tommy Tu turned to the domestic market. With the help of Alibaba Group’s huge trove of data on what Chinese consumers are searching for, his factory shifted to making products that became local hits, like a battery-operated electric toothbrush for 9.9 yuan (US$1.5).

The strategy helped Tu recover most of the lost foreign sales and reduce his Jiangsu-based firm’s dependence on exports to 60 percent of revenue, down from 90 percent earlier.

Spurred by the economic devastation unleashed by the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Chinese factories like this — some of which had exported almost everything they made — are re-focusing on the domestic market. They are turning to e-commerce giants like Alibaba, Pinduoduo Inc. and JD.com Inc. with deep pockets and years of observing consumer behavior, in what could be a long-term pivot.

“We have to focus more on domestic sales,” said Tu, who doesn’t anticipate a “return to the old days” of robust overseas demand. “We have to move away from just blindly sticking labels on products to actively researching, designing and building our own brand.”

Many exporters had already been seeking to expand domestic sales, and the pandemic accelerated that, said Wang Hai, a vice president at Alibaba overseeing consumer-to-manufacturer e-commerce. In just three months, Alibaba gathered more than 300,000 Chinese export factories to tap local demand directly.

Alibaba’s app, Taobao Deals, is a business-to-consumer platform mainly for Chinese manufacturers that went online in March. By June, it had 40 million monthly active users.

Still, only about 10 to 20 percent of Chinese exporters have taken action to extend their domestic reach, according to Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute, based on a small survey. Challenges include switching standards, and marketing unfamiliar brands amid local competition.(SD-Agencies)

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