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Alibaba’s Vision For Merchants Without PCs

Alibaba wants retailers to stop investing in personal computers and instead run operations entirely on the smartphone. That’s the conclusion experts gave following the Chinese eCommerce conglomerate’s rollout of new enterprise tools within its Taobao mobile application. Those tools, according to reports, allow merchant owners to operate their businesses entirely on the smartphone app, negating the need for a desktop computer.

Reports said Tuesday (April 21) that 8.4 million active merchants a year utilize the eCommerce Taobao app. The new updates allow those merchants to ditch the computer if they want, as the service integrates into a desktop app, too. But that may not be for long.

"The growing adoption of smartphones and mobile shopping in China means that online merchants should shift their focus from PC to mobile,” Alibaba’s director of its mobile business unit Zhang Kuo said in a statement. According to Alibaba, 2 million of its merchants have already migrated to the smartphone-only form of the Taobao tool since it was released in beta phase just two weeks ago.

The new updates include services allowing retailers to scan a new product barcode with the app to add it to the store’s inventory list. They can also scan barcodes on shipping invoices or input tracking numbers to complete product dispatching. For business owners just starting their store, Alibaba said that they can launch the enterprise through Taobao without ever having to use a desktop computer.

The computerless merchant may not be a Chinese-only phenomenon, either. Alibaba announced last November that it is developing an international version of Taobao for shoppers around the globe, offering an array of languages.

Taobao has not emerged without its mishaps, however. Alibaba revealed earlier this month that it had shut down 26 online shops using the Taobao platform for alleged bribery activities. The crackdown followed allegations that Alibaba itself was accepting bribes from storeowners to increase their presence and rankings on the site.

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