By Liza Lin
Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unveiled a foray into manufacturing on Wednesday, expanding its foothold beyond e-commerce and entertainment.
The company said it had opened a factory in the eastern China city of Hangzhou, where it has its headquarters, that aims to cut production times, delivery times and waste for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The factory had been operational since 2018 but mostly in an incubation phase.
The plant, known as Xunxi Digital Factory, is already producing products for apparel companies that sell on Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao online-retail platforms, Alibaba said. The venture assists clients in determining production numbers and designs by analyzing data from sources including Alibaba's own retail platforms, it added.
"Data is the core of new manufacturing and consumer demand has become increasingly fast-changing with a preference for personalized rather than mass-produced goods," Alibaba executive Alain Wu said in a statement. Technology used at the plant enables customers to "move towards a more agile model of production based on real-time demand."
Alibaba, China's most valuable technology company, runs businesses encompassing e-commerce, cloud computing and online entertainment.
It has been a big beneficiary of changing consumer habits during the recent coronavirus pandemic, as Chinese customers increasingly moved purchases from brick-and-mortar stores online. Tmall and Taobao are two of China's most popular e-commerce platforms.
Write to Liza Lin at email@example.com