Alibaba and Sina Weibo Jointly Explore Social E-commerce

Published in China Analysis Report on Oct 21st, 2013

On August 1st in 2013, Sina Weibo and Taobao, a subsidiary of Alibaba, together launched a Weibo-Taobao. Before this, Alibaba had announced its cooperation with Sina on April 29th in 2013, planning to cooperate in such fields as linking user accounts, exchanging data, online payment, and Internet marketing. By virtue of this cooperation, they aimed at exploring a social e-commerce model based on Weibo social media platform and Alibaba e-commerce platform. The launch of a Weibo-Taobao is the first display of their achievements in product development after Alibaba bought stocks of Sina.

Functions of the New Product

The Weibo-Taobao will have following functions. Firstly, users of Sina Weibo can directly log in to make the purchase and finish the payment since user accounts are linked to those two websites. Secondly, items on can be shown on Sina Weibo by the form of “CARD”, containing the information of goods’ price, stores’ credit and popularity. Besides, users can buy goods directly by clicking certain buttons on “CARD”. Thirdly, retailers can add a Weibo module to their background system of so as to post Weibo messages quickly, advertising their goods effectively. Meanwhile, relative data analytic services are offered to retailers, helping them better grasp buyers’ feedback.

User Base

According to the data from iUserTracker, a user online behavior measurement system launched by iResearch, of the monthly unique visitors (UV) of and Sina Weibo in June 2013, their common visitors accounted for 39.9%, almost reaching 130 million. After making user accounts accessible at both Sina Weibo and, the experience of users and retailers will be improved in following aspects. Firstly, switch between those two websites becomes easier and quicker. Users can quickly turn to for shopping through Sina Weibo, and can conveniently share their shopping information on Sina Weibo. Secondly, the exhibition of items by “CARD” can improve Taobao goods display on Weibo, bringing convenience to direct purchase. Thirdly, Taobao retailers can make use of the social media Weibo to advertise their goods, increasing the efficiency of Weibo marketing. In short, iResearch believes that the large number of Taobao and Weibo’s monthly active users–over a hundred million–provides an insurance for basic values to this new product. The cooperation between both parties in the product development brings convenience to their main service targets, namely, Weibo users and Taobao retailers.

proportion fo shareed UVs of TaoBao and Sina Weibo in june 2013

proportion fo shareed UVs of TaoBao and Sina Weibo in june 2013

For Alibaba

As for Alibaba, it gained several benefits from the cooperation with Sina Weibo. Firstly, small and medium-sized retailers, the majority of the total 8 million sellers on Taobao, were offered a new marketing mode apart from the mode of Taobao goods advertising “Taobao Express”. In addition to the advertising system of Alimama, Taobao’s marketing demands also need other media and platforms to meet. Since more than 300 thousand enterprises entered in the social media Sina Weibo, it can meet small and medium-sized retailers on Taobao demand for more marketing. Meanwhile, through Sina Weibo, small and medium-sized retailers on Taobao could communicate with consumers directly, stimulating the activity and prosperity of Taobao.
Secondly, Alibaba can obtain users’ social information and data through its cooperation with Sina Weibo. For a long time, Taobao were engaged in boosting the development of users’ community to share product information and shopping experience. Functions of and Taobao App Weitao also show Alibaba’s unremitting efforts. Informations from social networking platform, especially real time information from Sina Weibo, can assist Alibaba to collect user data more accurately, helping it further improve its ecosystem.
Thirdly, this cooperation can make up Alibaba’s drawbacks in mobile business, contributing to the development of Taobao’s mobile shopping. According to the mUserTracker, mobile internet user behavior measurement product launched by iResearch, the monthly UVs of Sina Weibo App in June 2013 was 87.079 million. Doubtlessly, Sina Weibo’s outstanding performance in mobile devices was an important factor for Alibaba to decide cooperation with Sina Weibo.

Monthly UVs of Sina Weibo App Aug.2012-jun.2013

Monthly UVs of Sina Weibo App Aug.2012-jun.2013

For Sina

According to Sina’s financial results in Q2 2012, Sina Weibo earned 10 million dollars from advertising, indicating its initial achievements in commercialization. After that, Sina Weibo pushed its commercialization constantly. In advertising, Sina Weibo progressed from display ads to streamline ads Fensitong, till to the latest Taobao ads “window marketing”. Ads on Weibo at present only made use of its media value; they didn’t probe into user data and users’ social relationships.
After this cooperation with Taobao, users can buy goods directly on Sina Weibo. Besides, direct sales of Xiaomi phones and Mercedes-Benz Smart on Sina Weibo already proved that users could experience a complete circle of advertising, purchasing, and sharing on Sina Weibo. Additionally, as a branch of Sina, Sinapay received payment license from PBOC on July 10, 2013, strongly supporting the social e-commerce of Sina.
According to the data of iUserTracker, a user online behavior measurement system launched by iResearch, taobao’s traffic from Sina Weibo accounted for 1.93% in Taobao’s traffic from external sites, much lower than the traffic from navigation and search, but higher than the traffic from other social network sites. However, a fairly large share of the traffic outflowing from Taobao went to Sina Weibo. On the whole, the traffic led by Sina Weibo to Taobao was still limited at present, but Sina Weibo might become an important channel for Taobao users to share their shopping experience. To conclude, Sina Weibo played a role of obtaining goods information in the first stage of online shopping and giving feedbacks after purchasing in the last stage of online shopping. As a result, it could add more interaction and promptness to shopping experience on Taobao.


Share of Sina Weibo as a Source Taobao External Traffic and a Destination of Taobao Traffic

Share of Sina Weibo as a Source Taobao External Traffic and a Destination of Taobao Traffic

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