Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has unveiled Mashang Tao, a new platform that lets brands and merchants create QR codes that can be used to make purchases in stores, online and from printed advertisements, as well as provide a range of value-added services to consumers.
Mashang Tao currently includes five services:
- Shangpin Ma: These QR codes will be featured on offline merchandise, enabling customers to scan the code to connect with the relevant Alibaba mobile commerce site to obtain product information, images, prices and reviews, as well as to purchase an item;
- Mashang Dian: Merchants will be able to place these QR codes in brick and mortar stores to direct customers to their website. Alibaba signed a partnership with Chinese department store chain Intime Retail to display Mashang Dian QR codes in November last year and they will now also be used by Alibaba’s Tao Diandian service to let customers place food delivery orders and make dining reservations;
- Meiti Ma: These QR codes can be printed on traditional print media. Consumers will be able to scan the codes to purchase advertised products;
- Fuwu Ma: This will allow QR codes to be included on delivery packages. Customers will be able to scan the code to accept deliveries and to access after sales support;
- Hudong Ma: These codes will redirect consumers to merchant-sponsored games and other services.
Customers “will be able to go into a supermarket to scan the codes of groceries to put them into their online shopping cart,” Alibaba says. “They can then directly purchase the groceries online using their mobile devices and have groceries delivered to their homes fuss-free.”
Scannable codes will also give shoppers on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com access to improved customer service by allowing them to scan codes to contact after-sales support staff or download product manuals instantly.
Alibaba will be integrating the technology into various other parts of its platform, including product listings, customer service, logistics and marketing activities to enable a more “interactive and holistic consumer experience” for its hundreds of millions of users, the company says.
“Our aim is to broaden the applicability and usability of scannable codes so that users can easily be connected to additional services and content, as well as to create multiple gateways and touch points into our ecosystem via any mobile device, any time, anywhere,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang explains.
“We hope this initiative will give consumers the ability to unlock more personalised, customer-oriented potential from their shopping and entertainment activities via our platforms and services, as well as help our merchants to deepen their engagement and interaction with customers.”