Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has released a five-year plan that sets out an ambitious target of serving more than one billion annual active consumers through its China consumer business by 2024.

The company’s China consumer business – mostly covering retail marketplaces, digital media and entertainment, as well as local consumer services – has an additional task of exceeding Rmb10 trillion in annual gross merchandise volume over the same period.

CEO and executive chairman Daniel Zhang unveiled the five-year plan to more than 600 investors on Wednesday, while also updating them about company metrics for the 12 months to June 30, 2019.

He said Alibaba has approximately 860 million annual active consumers globally, including 730 million at its China consumer business and another 130 million active users of its cross-border and global retail e-commerce businesses.

Alipay, its payments division, has about 900 million annual active users in China, Zhang said, while Alibaba and Ant Financial combined have around 960 million users in China.

Alibaba’s retail marketplaces tap into 85% of developed regions, he added, but less-developed areas present a “tremendous” opportunity because the company currently has a penetration rate of just 40% there.

However, even though consumer numbers are continuing to increase, Zhang cautioned that it is just as important to view consumer needs holistically and serve them across all platforms in the Alibaba ecosystem.

“Today, we are creating and fulfilling new consumption needs with a view to focus on growing our digital consumer population as a whole. We can unlock tremendous synergies between our various consumer-facing businesses to convert and harvest incremental customers across the Alibaba digital economy,” he said.

Alibaba also emphasised that its five-year plan for its China consumer business complements its longer-term ambition of serving two billion customers around the world, to support ten million profitable SMEs and help create 100 million jobs.

On the same day, Alibaba also unveiled its first chip designed for artificial intelligence applications, which Alizila, a news portal owned by Alibaba, said would speed up machine-learning tasks by 12 times the previous rate.

Called Hanguang 800 after a legendary sword in ancient China, the chip – the latest to be developed by a non-traditional chipmaker – will incorporate Alibaba algorithms and boost cloud computing capabilities.

Sourced from Alibaba, Alizila; additional content by WARC staff