Alibaba says Open Sesame, India!

18th February 2010
Alibaba says Open Sesame, India!
Bharadwaj "Waz" Pudipeddi in Hyderabad last week ( IndiaTechOnline Photo)

A 23 year old -- the only Indian among 10,000 at its China headquarters – is helping fine tune its India-specific channel, now a million-plus members strong.

The world’s largest Internet-driven business to business e-commerce operation is crafting a special strategy to enhance its appeal for the small to medium sized Indian trader – and it looks like it is succeeding. In 2009, the India-specific portal, the first international e-biz gateway after the US, for the Hangzhou, China-based enterprise,  Alibaba, saw its millionth member registration. ( see our July 4 2009 picture story of the event: )
Since then, the India-based buying and selling has steadily grown – and even on the international home page (  ), the India flag pops up every few seconds as the latest products are showcased.
Helping Alibaba fine tune its India-specific offerings and web resources is the sole Indian among over 10,000 in its headquarters at Hangzhou, China, 2 hours drive south from Shanghai. Bharadwaj Pudipeddi ( ‘Waz’ to his colleagues) is just 23. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Waz has been with Alibaba for two years now as Sales Planner (Global Sales Programmes) with special responsibility for the India offerings. IndiaTechOnline caught up with Waz on his brief trip back home ( his parents are based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh) where he shared with us his excitement at the manner in which the smallest Indian buyers and sellers have taken to the Alibaba way of doing business online. Thanks to his cultural insights, Alibaba, who has partnered with Infomedia for its Indian portal, is able to schedule its India- centred services and mailings to the local calendar – this is just one of the small ways Waz has been able to help give Alibaba a friendlier face here.
Approximately 3000 Indian members are what Alibaba calls “premium” traders: they pay an annual subscription; their operations are closely examined and certified and they get to have their own web showcase at Globally some 20,000 members out of some 30 million, are in the premium category – so clearly the interest in India is of significant interest to Alibaba.
However on its home turf, Alibaba also has a large b-to-c or business to customer online trade: This operation is called and makes it the largest such player in China.

For Founder-CEO Jack Ma, Alibaba is the way small businesses will be operating world wide in the near future. He sees the biggest opportunity for India and China – and we quote at some length from his op ed piece in the New York Times because we believe what Jack Ma says should make a lot of sense for India’s estimated 3.5 million micro , small and medium entrepreneurs:
“We are at the beginning of a revolution where Internet-based technologies will forever shift the power dynamics between customers and businesses. Entrepreneurial small and medium companies around the world that take advantage of these new developments and emerging trends will be the ones that come out ahead…….The ability to identify or create new business opportunities around the world will be limitless. For example, a business that starts in China or India will have ability to compete with one in Indiana.”
“The coming years will see an exponential global rise of Internet entrepreneurs, or Netrepreneurs, who do business only through the Internet, make products only for sale on the Internet and adhere to a set of principles that include the utmost respect for customers, work partners, the community and the environment.”
“By 2019, a mere 10 years from now, I believe that more than 1 billion people around the world will turn to these small online businesses for their everyday goods and services. “
“It’s time to stop talking about supporting small businesses and take action to do so. Small is beautiful.”
( see full NYT piece here: )
- Anand Parthasarathy from Hyderabad, Feb 19 2010.