Alibaba sets up ANZ headquarters in Melbourne

Chinese e-commerce operator follows through on plans to open its first physical office, which will support 1,300 businesses in Australia and New Zealand peddling their wares on its online marketplaces.

Alibaba Group has established its first physical presence in Australia, launching an on office in Melbourne that will support local businesses peddling their wares on its online marketplaces.

The Chinese e-commerce giant said the new office would serve as the headquarters for its operators in Australia and New Zealand, where more than 1,000 brick-and-mortar stores currently accepted payments through its payment app, Alipay.

Headed by ANZ managing director, Maggie Zhou, the Melbourne site also would support 1,300 Australian and 400 New Zealand businesses that sold products on Alibaba's online marketplaces, Tmall and Tmall Global.

Zhou said: "A physical Alibaba headquarters is a key step in ensuring Australian businesses have the support and information they need to succeed in China and the rest of the world."

She added that the Chinese company would be looking to beef up the necessary infrastructure to facilitate this, encompassing cloud computing, online payments, and logistics. Alibaba in November opened its Sydney cloud data centre, one of four such facilities launched last year as part of a US$1 billion investment to boost its global cloud footprint.

It also signed an agreement this week to expand its partnership with Australia Post. This would extend the state-run postal operator's services into Southeast Asia's e-commerce market through Singapore-based Lazada Group, which Alibaba acquired last April.

The agreement would see Australia Post working with the Chinese vendor's logistics business, Cainiao Network, to enhance data integration and develop a "co-branded, cross-border delivery service" for parcels moving from Australia to China. Australia Post in 2014 established a storefront on Tmall Global touting products from Australian small and midsize businesses to Chinese consumers. The postal service provided the logistical support to fulfil orders to China.

According to Alibaba, its global B2B website had been operating in Australia since 1999. Pilot online stores also were expected to be introduced in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia later this year.

Alibaba had first unveiled plans to set up the Melbourne office last July, when it launched an online wholesale platform for Australian products in China selling various Australian goods such as milk powder, honey, wine, and health supplements. Australian supermart chain Woolworths as well as healthcare brand Blackmores also began selling their products on Tmall Global.