BEIJING: China's already thriving m-commerce market is set to get a further boost over the next two months as Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, has teamed up with telecoms companies to offer free data packages to mobile users.
Initially, Alibaba is offering the option to clients of China Mobile and China United Netcom across four provinces, according to China Daily, and may extend it to other regions depending on feedback. Mobile users will be able to apply for the data package when using Alibaba's apps for the company's various platforms, including Taobao Marketplace, Tmall.com, Juhuasuan, Laiwang and Alipay.
The move coincides with the annual online shopping festival which takes place this year on November 11. Wu Yongming, vice-president of Alibaba, said the goal was to "more than double the record of last year", when Taobao.com and Tmall.com recorded combined sales of 19.1bn yuan ($3.13bn) over the 24 hours.
Lu Jingyu, an analyst with iResearch Consulting Group, said the free data package was in line with Alibaba's long-term mobile Internet strategy, adding that the move "may help Alibaba gain more fans in price-sensitive second or third-tier cities, which still lack basic internet infrastructure, such as wi-fi".
A recent report put the value of the mobile shopping market in the third quarter at 34.1bn yuan. Analysys International said this represented a 17% quarter-on-quarter increase and a 104% year-on-year increase.
Alibaba's dominant position was emphasised as Taobao, China's leading online retail platform, maintained its top position, reported Xinhua, with around 80% of the mobile shopping market, followed by e-commerce site Jingdong with just 8.7%.
The report said the m-commerce market was being advanced by e-commerce mobile client applications. It further noted that price wars would not help cultivate loyal customers and suggested businesses would do better to make the best use of smart terminals and provide customers with more convenient service.
Data sourced from China Daily, Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff