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Where did the e-commerce in the post-Ma Yun era go?

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Editor’s Note: This article is from the WeChat public account “Economic Observer” (ID: eeo-com-cn), author Chen Yongwei, 36 氪 authorized to release.With the retreat, Ma Yun’s era is about to end.At this moment, in addition to the story of the heroes, the most concerned about is still: what will be the e-commerce world after Ma Yun.When retiring in 2007, a media asked me to write an article about Ma Yun.In the manuscript I handed to the editor, I wrote: “Perhaps one day in the future, the English teacher who left the university will return to his familiar campus and change from ‘Ma General’ back to ‘Ma Teacher’.”.But for some reason, the editors made a lot of changes to my text in the manuscripts that were published later. The words that I was quite content with were also deleted.Perhaps, in the eyes of the editor, my words should be completely unnecessary lyrics.After all, Alibaba at that time just defeated ebay, stabilized the position of e-commerce boss, and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. As the founder, Ma Yun was proud of the spring breeze.It is indeed too early to look forward to retiring life for such an entrepreneur who is still on the rise.In a twinkling of an eye, twelve years later, Ma Yun really retired, and his retirement time was selected on September 10th Teacher’s Day.After the phrase “Green Mountain does not change, green water flows long”, Ma Yun officially announced his resignation as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alibaba.I don’t know if this means that he will return to campus one day and return to the classroom, but at least that Ma Yun, who is an e-commerce clerk, has no theory in theory.Ma Yun is indeed a very great entrepreneur. In just 20 years, he has made a small capital of 500,000 RMB and more than a dozen employees, with a market value of more than 450 billion US dollars and more than 100,000 employees.Business empire.This is already a miracle, but from a social point of view, his greater contribution is to introduce a new business form of e-commerce to China through Alibaba, and has played a huge role in promoting the development of e-commerce.Twenty years ago, people were still guessing whether they could buy all kinds of necessities on the Internet in the future. Twenty years later, people can almost buy anything they want on the Internet.At the same time, a large number of merchants moved their stores from offline to online, which drastically reduced operating costs, but also allowed their business scope to expand as never before.In this sense, Ma Yun not only created a company, but also led an industry and promoted a revolution in the economic structure, which is really a big deal!However, even a great hero can only dominate an era.With the retreat, Ma Yun’s era is about to end.At this moment, in addition to the story of the heroes, the most concerned about is the e-commerce world after Ma Yun.In an interview in 2006, a reporter asked Ma Yun, who he thought was his biggest opponent.Ma Yun gave the very famous answer: “I am afraid that I can’t find an opponent with a telescope.” At that time, people had a very different explanation for this answer.Some people think that this is Ma Yun’s proud statement; while others have the opposite view, thinking that this is precisely reflecting Ma’s worries about the difficulty of discovering potential opponents.In my opinion, in fact, Ma Yun at that time was more likely to have both moods.At that time, Taobao just replaced ebay to become the country’s largest e-commerce website. Later, Jingdong, the enemy of Jingdong, was still not a climate. Looking at it, Alibaba is indeed a solitary defeat. This is something to be proud of.But while at the same time, Ma Yun should be very clear in his heart, and the opponent may appear from the dark at any time.As long as they are not careful, they will pull down Alibaba like Alibaba defeats ebay.Later history did confirm that Ali’s opponents might appear at any time.Soon after, with the rise of Jingdong, Ali’s exclusivity in the e-commerce market was quickly replaced by Ali and Jingdong.The strong rise of the fight has further transformed the e-commerce structure into a three-legged position.In fact, the situation does not stop there.App like fast hand, vibrato, etc., although it is nominally short video and live broadcast, but after mastering the huge traffic, it also began to cut into the e-commerce market, and independently developed a new e-commerce of video e-commerce.Category.More importantly, with the popularity of the Internet, traditional offline retail stores have begun to become large-scale Internet, and the boundaries between online and offline have become increasingly blurred.Under the guidance of “New Retail”, “Smart Retail” and “Unbounded Retail”, online platforms and offline shopping malls began to meet in the broad retail market.It can be said that the entire e-commerce industry is moving towards the Warring States era.Sinking On December 24, 2007, Ma Yun suddenly announced to the whole company that Taobao CEO Sun Yuyu would study abroad.Although the words are very euphemistic, the discerning person can see that for a president, the so-called “learning” is actually synonymous with dismissal.Sun Yuyu was one of the first “18 Arhats” to follow Ma Yun’s entrepreneurship and was the founder of Taobao.From the outside world, he has always been Ma Yun’s most effective assistant, and may even be Ma Yun’s successor.Therefore, this sudden dismissal, it is difficult for the outside world to guess the original.There are rumors that the cause of the incident is that Sun Yuyu said to Ma Yun that Taobao’s model is old and that it is going to make a self-revolution to Taobao, but Ma Yun does not agree with this.In the end, the e-commerce disputes ended with the departure of the proponents.Regrettably, this rumor did not reveal what the new e-commerce model advocated by Sun Yuyu was, which left the incident with a mysterious color.Until many years later, with the rise of a new e-commerce company, the mystery was gradually unveiled.This emerging e-commerce company is a lot of work.Compared with the traditional e-commerce, the fight is really full of new ideas.In the past, the exchange of e-commerce was limited to between merchants and consumers, and the combination of more social elements into the process, thus creating a new form of e-commerce for “social e-commerce.”People usually attribute this idea to the founder of the United States, Huang Hao, but Huang Hao himself revealed that his investors gave him inspiration and inspiration, and this mysterious investor is Sun Yuyu.However, this “social e-commerce” has been questioned since its inception.In general, these questions are broadly divided into three categories.The first type of questioning is about its social attributes.Many people think that in the current interpersonal relationship environment, it is very rude to go to find a friend to help bargain for a few dollars.The second type of questioning is about its quality.Many of the goods on the market are very cheap. By bargaining, the price can be made low to the point of incredible.However, the so-called “cheap is not good”, at the same time cheap, the quality of the products sold by many people has also been attacked by many people.The third type of questioning is directed at its profit model.Many people are worried that because the price of goods on the market is too low, there will be no profit. In this case, it is difficult for enterprises to achieve sustainable development.Interestingly, despite the various challenges, the growth of the fight is surprisingly fast.In just three years, it has changed from a start-up to a public company.According to the recent stock price calculation, its market value has reached more than 40 billion US dollars, surpassing the old Internet giant Baidu, becoming the fifth largest Internet company in China.On the one hand, it is constantly questioning in public opinion, and on the other hand, it is the triumph of performance. What makes it so easy to have two attributes that seem to be difficult to be compatible?The mystery lies in the market it is targeting, the so-called “sinking market”.What is a “sinking market”?In general, it refers to markets outside the first and second tier cities, which is what people call the “world outside the five rings”.The size of this market is huge.According to the report released by the Mob Research Institute, as of April 2019, mobile Internet users in China’s third- and fifth-tier cities and rural areas in rural areas accounted for 52.9% of the total number of mobile Internet users.Some people may say that the size of netizens in these areas is huge, but because of lower income, purchasing power is limited.But in fact, the situation is not that simple.It is true that compared with the first-tier cities, the income of netizens in the “sinking market” is much lower overall, but there are also some people with certain economic strength.According to statistics, in this market, 36.2% of netizens earn between 5,000 and 10,000 a month, and 4.7% of netizens earn more than 10,000 yuan a month.Considering the huge population base, you can know that people with higher incomes are not as few as people think.It should also be pointed out that although people living in first- and second-tier cities usually have higher incomes, due to the high cost of living in these areas, their expenditures are also very large – not to mention, high rents,Mortgage has already made many residents in first- and second-tier cities unbearable.In contrast, residents of the 3rd, 4th and 5th tier cities rarely have similar problems.Although the income is low, due to the low cost of living, the balance in their hands is not necessarily less than that of the first- and second-tier cities.In fact, for those “sinking market” residents who already own housing, the disposable funds in their hands are usually quite considerable.In the “sinking market”, there are many business logics that make people in first- and second-tier cities feel very strange, but as long as we understand the characteristics of the “sinking market”, we will find that these business logics are actually self-consistent.For example, many people are joking with a TV set that sells more than 200 pieces, and people who buy such a TV must be fools.But if they understand that cable TV is not popular in some places, and expensive TVs can only look at the central set, it is not difficult to understand why 200 TVs are also sold.Another example is that some people don’t understand why consumers choose Adi King instead of Adidas.But if they know that in many areas, because the penetration rate of branded goods is very low, many consumers simply don’t know the difference between Adi and Adi Wang. Even if they think that Adi King is an upgrade product of Adi, they will not look like this.The weird choice was amazing.What needs to be pointed out here is that, unlike the first- and second-tier cities where the immigrants are numerous and the society is mainly composed of strangers, the residents in the “sinking market” largely retain the characteristics of the local society, between relatives and friends.Communication is more frequent.In this context, sharing cheap goods information with friends and family, it is a normal thing to pull them together to bargain, so the “social + cheap” strategy of fighting a lot is just like a duck in this market.There is always a different view on whether the fight will have a strong impact on Ali’s position in the e-commerce market.Some scholars believe that although the fight is more and more powerful, its impact on Ali’s e-commerce business is very small.The reason is very simple: the quality of the products is too low, and there are even many brands without brands. Such products may at most rely on their low price to pose a certain impact on Taobao, and now Ali’s revenue and profits in the e-commerce field mainly come from Tmall.Therefore, its impact will be minimal.In my opinion, this kind of thinking obviously underestimates the threat of a lot of fights.On the one hand, Ali’s e-commerce revenue and profits do come mainly from Tmall, but a large part of Tmall’s traffic is imported from Taobao.Therefore, in a certain sense, the impact of a lot of Taobao on the bottom of the Ali e-commerce business, once successful, the damage to the entire Ali e-commerce system will be huge.On the other hand, at present, many people have begun to pay attention to the quality and brand issues of their products.Through the C2M model, it better balances cost and quality.As for the brand issue, the fight is also promoting its own brand.To sum up these two reasons, for Ali, it is not a disease that is too much, but it is likely to be a big worry.Of course, Ali also has a lot of advantages, such as payment, logistics and other infrastructure.In contrast, in addition to the e-commerce itself, the control of the relevant infrastructure is still too weak.From this point of view, at least in the short term, Ali can still maintain an advantage over the fight.But whether this advantage can be sustained and how long it can last is still difficult to judge.Apart from coping with the e-commerce upstart that uses the “rural encircling the city” strategy to grow wildly, Ali’s e-commerce business also needs to deal with another type of rival.These opponents did not start as e-commerce, but after successful in other fields, they attacked the e-commerce market through the “platform parcel” strategy.As e-commerce, such opponents may not be professional, but because they usually have unique advantages, they may not be easy to deal with.Doing short videos and live broadcasts of fast hands and vibrato, and SF, which started logistics, belong to this category.To say that the most typical example of entering e-commerce through the method of copying, I am afraid that non-live e-commerce is the only one.With the popularity of 4G technology, live broadcast has gradually developed into a very important form of communication.With the help of live broadcasts, a large number of anchors have emerged and formed a close social network with their fans.In such a social network, the anchors are in a central position, and their views have a strong guiding effect on their fans.This feature inherently contains a wealth of profit potential.Initially, the mode in which anchors earned revenue from live broadcasts focused on fees and rewards.Later, some market-savvy anchors took the lead in recognizing the economic value of bringing goods through live broadcast.Thus, the new e-commerce model of live e-commerce was born.Practice has proved that this model is very successful in the market.For those famous anchors, a live broadcast of millions of goods, even tens of millions are commonplace.Some consulting agencies have estimated the scale of live e-commerce, and believe that its total size may reach 100 billion.To be frank, at the beginning, I didn’t understand the form of live e-commerce.In my opinion, those anchors seem to be the same as TV direct sales ads. Even the eloquence and performance of many net red anchors are not as good as those in direct sales advertisements. However, why direct sales advertisements are almost no one to watch, but live broadcasts canRealizing such a huge amount of goods?To this end, I asked a friend in the industry.The answer he gave me was that this effect was mainly due to trust.In the process of e-commerce transactions, the construction of trust is more difficult.Traditional e-commerce, such as Taobao, achieves this through some systems, such as paying for goods after payment, but this system does not have a significant psychological impact on people.The live e-commerce is different.In the live broadcast process, the anchor can have more frequent communication with the audience, so they actually establish an acquaintance relationship, and the trust generated based on this relationship is usually relatively stable.In addition, since the feedback of the live broadcast room is very timely, the viewer can understand the product status by checking the previous viewer’s message before deciding to purchase, so the information asymmetry problem can be better eliminated.All of these factors are essentially different from TV direct sales that are performed by actors and cannot be timely feedback. Therefore, TV direct sales are not good, but live broadcasts may show strong vitality.For the importance of live broadcast, Alibaba is aware of it earlier.Since 2016, Taobao has launched a live broadcast function.On the platform of Taobao Live, a lot of well-known live broadcasts were born, and their existence also played a great role in the development of Taobao.However, Taobao’s Bank is e-commerce after all, and its appeal on live broadcast is difficult to compare with professional live broadcast platforms such as vibrato and fast hands.In this case, some anchors simply moved the live broadcast venue to vibrate or fast, and then guided the audience to their Taobao store.Initially, this kind of operation has little effect on Taobao, because no matter where the live broadcast is done, the final realization is still in Taobao, the fertilizer and water are not flowing outside the field, and the revenue and profits are still in the hands of Ali.But after a long time, the original live broadcast platform saw the doorway and simply started the e-commerce business.Now, both the vibrato and the fast hand have introduced a special e-commerce function, and have given high priority to this business.Take the fast hand as an example. It recently launched a “shopping assistant” specifically for e-commerce and connected it directly to the WeChat applet.In this way, once the audience has seen a certain item, they can complete the order transaction directly in the fast hand, instead of going to the anchor’s Taobao store to complete it.This improvement is a good thing for both the anchor and the audience, but for Ali, I am afraid it is a threat.Then, in the future e-commerce world, is Ali, who is developing live broadcasts by e-commerce, win, or is it a live broadcast of e-commerce and a quick win?We may still need some time to get an answer.In the current view of the ecology, whether it is a lot of fights, fast hands, or vibrato, for the time being, there should be some local collisions in certain markets and certain areas.In the near future, Ali’s biggest challenge in the e-commerce sector should not come from these companies.In fact, compared to these companies, the threat of Tencent’s old rival may be much greater.Historically, Tencent has done e-commerce, but it is very unsuccessful. Later, it simply transferred the entire e-commerce business to Jingdong.Based on this, many people think that Tencent does not have an e-commerce gene, so at least in the e-commerce market, there is no need to pay attention to its existence.In my opinion, this view is completely wrong.Perhaps Tencent’s ability to do e-commerce is indeed lacking, but it has more powerful power in its hands, and that is the power of ecology.In essence, e-commerce is only a historical form of retail, not the final form.What is retail?Marketing master Kotler gave a definition in his classic book, Marketing Management: “Retail is everything that is involved in the direct sale of goods or services to the end consumer for their personal non-commercial use.”According to this definition, we look at retail, we must not only look at the section of the goods that ultimately achieves the sale, but also should be more broad-minded, and all retail service activities that will be carried out for the sale and purchase are taken into account.Once we realize this, we will find Tencent’s true strength.Yes, although Tencent itself has no e-commerce business, it has all the capabilities needed to support e-commerce, such as traffic acquisition, data analysis, cloud storage and computing, financial payment and support.By exporting such capabilities to partners in the Tencent ecosystem such as Jingdong and Jieduo, you can always bring huge challenges to Ali’s e-commerce business.In fact, this kind of competition has already begun.As early as 2017, Tencent proposed the concept of “smart retail”. Although it is not stated, everyone knows that this concept is in direct contradiction with the concept of “new retail” that Alibaba proposed earlier.We know that the new retail is actually an important upgrade of Ali’s e-commerce business. It is an attempt to combine the online capabilities of e-commerce with the offline scenes.In order to achieve this, Ali has almost mobilized the capabilities of the entire group.Tencent, because it does not have an e-commerce or retail business, has mainly played the role of a power exporter, helping its business partners compete with Ali in the market.From the current point of view, these two models have their own merits and wins.In the future competition, how will Tencent and Ali’s dragons fight?This answer is best left to give time to give it!.