A Little Step Makes a Thousand Miles, and a Little Stream Makes a Great Ocean

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Youtan, Head of Alibaba Supply Chain Platform(ASCP), Tmall Supermarket, Freshippo, and Digital Agricultural Products

Dear all,

When municipal and provincial hospitals were running low on anti-epidemic supplies, Alibaba set up a special fund of RMB 1 billion immediately to procure medical supplies at home and abroad, including diagnostic and treatment equipments, preparations, facemasks, protective clothing, and forehead thermometers, before donating them to hospitals, schools, and governments. As a hub for the procurement and supply of anti-epidemic supplies in the Alibaba economy, Tmall Supermarket managed and distributed RMB 1 billion worth of anti-epidemic supplies.

At this urgent moment, ASCP played its role in connecting multiple supply channels. We built an end-to-end supply chain for anti-epidemic supplies and achieved accurate matching of goods in three days. By connecting business resources around the world (Tmall Supermarket, Tmall Global…) and global logistics resources, we met external demands from schools, hospitals, and governments as well as internal demands from Freshippo, Ele.me, and Cainiao with the fastest speed. We realized efficient and accurate matching between the supply side and the demand side, thus turning uncertainty into certainty.

No excuse for difficulties, and racing to fight against the epidemic!

Facing the challenges posed by the epidemic, employees from Tmall Supermarket, ASCP, and Cainiao pulled off an online assembly in an hour. They worked day and night in collaboration with upstream and downstream partners, producing a product requirement document in one day and launching the business in three days. Supported by an end-to-end supply chain platform, we visualized the whole logistics chain, making the material management transparent and the supply-demand matching accurate. We also provided the most reliable solution in the shortest time to ensure Tmall Supermarket functioned well as a procurement and supply hub.

A supply chain for anti-epidemic supplies entails some basic abilities, such as product sourcing, product release, procurement planning/execution, logistics coordination, channel inventory management, channel distribution, and industry & finance integration. Besides, it needs to support procurement intention management and on-demand allocation and distribution. It also has a high requirement for circulation and distribution efficiency. In a word, the whole supply chain requires refined management. Getting all these tasks done, we also opened up a green channel for suppliers with anti-epidemic supplies and developed supply chain-related products including procurement intentions, distribution, and B2B sales. By doing so, we worked out an end-to-end solution covering suppliers, multi-level buyers, and logistics service providers.

The quick establishment of the supply chain proves ASCP’s ability to offer services.

How did we meet massive customized requirements while providing anti-epidemic supplies? We have developed two abilities: First, ASCP’s end-to-end ability to connect the supply side with the demand side. Second, ASCP’s ability to productize its basic abilities. We delivered flexible and prompt customization through the New-Retail Business Framework and connected multiple ends in just three days.

In the past year, ASCP built a “main channel” for Alibaba’s supply chain business through Project One, taking the lead in fully engaging in the business of Tmall Supermarket and creating a product closed-loop system for ASCP. This system contains basic models (e.g. products, suppliers, inventories, supply chain networks), business-finance chain abilities (e.g. accountancy, settlement, audit, risk management), and strategic product abilities (e.g. procurement planning, Internet resource planning, inventory monitoring), and execution abilities (e.g. procurement execution, logistics coordination, order delivery). Besides, the system helps the organization transform towards a business structure featuring “multi-source supply, multi-channel operation, and multi-level delivery”, thus forms a full supply chain solution and visualizes the supply chain data.

Based on AIC’s channel inventory formed in Project One, we can conveniently and accurately manage the inventory from distribution to channel sales and make certain the product distribution to the demand side. Through NBF’s SPI multi-state and configuration capabilities, we can make quick replenishment plans based on the recognition logic of tags for products with purchase tendency. In addition, through the tag definition ability, we can transmit the replenishment plans directly to Cainiao’s system. Services can then be seamlessly expanded and quickly launched and configured. Therefore, the time required for end-to-end development and joint testing is greatly reduced. Meanwhile, the stable operation of the system is ensured after the launch. That is to say, higher efficiency means less time.

The so-called plain sailing is actually a result of unheralded efforts.

During the epidemic, it was not an easy job for 12 product technology teams to work together and solve a series of complex problems. We were separated physically when we were working online, but I felt we were emotionally closer to one another.

Danyan working at home
Danyan working at home

Danyan is responsible for the product launch plan. She is not only a programmer supporting the frontline but also a mother with a bouncing baby. In order to be able to concentrate on work without being interrupted, she went to the restroom to work every day from 9:00 to 18:00. Facing the epidemic and working in such a poor condition, Danyan finished her work and launched the product for testing ahead of others.

Frontline stories touched everyone. At the same time, we have to admit that ASCP still has a long way to go. The supply chain product system is not only the lifeblood of digital commerce, but also an invisible part beneath the iceberg of digital technology. And the success of large-scale digital commerce exactly depends on such invisible infrastructure. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of you for your persistence and passion for the supply chain. Through our engineering data, algorithms, highly abstract products, proactive planning, and technology empowerment, we will keep improving the platform, create a platform for product operation, and establish a business intelligence route that links Alibaba’s digital commerce to the whole world. A middle platform for the supply chain is a core for the upgrade from B2C to B2B. With the rise of Alibaba’s retail business such as Tmall Supermarket, Freshippo, and Tmall Global, and the robust supply chain demand from Village Taobao, C2M, LST, Lazada, and AliExpress, our supply chain system for the digital commerce is well on track to be a trendsetter.

Alibaba Tech

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