The future of e-commerce: Alibaba Company, a lesson for Europe


Alibaba Group Holding limited is an interesting company. Founded in 1999, the Company has a lot of organized websites, in particular networks between consumers and sellers. Certainly the company’s strengths are: the efficient computer system, a policy of protection for customers cutting edge and a refined organization of products. The first public offering of Alibaba was on 19 September 2014 and was one of the most important events happened in the history of the company and, probably, a relevant occurrence for the global economic system. One of the most important element we have to consider is that Alibaba provides not only business-to-business and business-to-customers sales services, but it also controls Taobao, a website that offers its users the opportunity to exchange and sell objects and goods, with a system in some aspects similar to Ebay. But customer-to-customer sales are not the specific topic of this short analysis.

We need to consider those profiles that can inspire us to improve the system of e-commerce companies in Europe.We are talking about business-to-customers service and, in most cases there is a professional seller in China while the buyer is a person in another state.
Let’s see which are the positive differences.

First we have to analyze the purchase protection, that is one of the most enviable strengths of Alibaba. The Company has a special internal system that organizes and resolves disputes between sellers and customers. In this analysis we consider the dispute management rules such as of one of the most important aspects of the Alibaba Group. When there is a problem with the product, the customer can contact the management team, so he has the opportunity to formally contact the dealer and explain the problems. At the end the customer can choose for a total or partial refund. In the initial phase customers and sellers can reach an agreement, but if the opinions remain divergents, the Alibaba’s team will take care of that. After listening to both opinions and having seen a photo or a video on the issue, the Alibaba’s team decides whether and how much should be refunded. Something very similar to a trial, in which there is an initial attempt at conciliation, and then a third part decides on the basis of evidence.

The e- commerce companies’ in Europe give to the consumers a higher level of guarantee on the quality of products. The CE mark has in fact significantly higher standard than the CCC mark, that is the Chinese one. It can be said that the quality standards of the goods cannot be determined by the company that acts only as an intermediary. This statement is certainly true but a careful evaluation suggests that a product purchased from a European state on the Alibaba’s network is an imported product and, in most cases, comes from China. Therefore this product doesn’t necessarily follow the EU standards required for the consumers’ protection. So we can say that a good system could be a mixed one: the Alibaba’s websites organization and the consumers’ guarantees with the EU quality standards on the goods.

Davide Gambetta 
Arbitral Judge – CESCOND, Italy

Author on Leggioggi

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