With its 836 million active users, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao on Monday has announced a “One Million New Students Plan” to “help more than 1,000 education organizations to gain at least 100,000 new students each in the next three years,” marching into the field of education, according to a press release.
Currently, by searching “Taobao Education” on the app’s main page, buyers now can access a newly-launched section, which hosts all kinds of educational content ranging from e-commerce management, language learning, parenting, dancing, and exercising to K-12 subjects. Users can buy pre-recorded classes or register for paid classes administered via livestream.
“The omnipotent Taobao never lacks educational products,” said Huang Lei, general manager at Taobao Education Business Unit. “Since the online education sector started to explode at the beginning of this year, Taobao opted to take advantage of this trend, ramping up management to speed up the digitalization of the education industry.”
The education unit was officially established in March, and reports to Jiang Fan, President of Taobao and Tmall.
Today’s announcement signals that the e-commerce platform, backed by its marketing capabilities, huge user base, and technical tools, such as mini-programs, livestreaming, and recommendation algorithms, is trying to integrate educational content to provide educational bloggers and organizations with another digital sales channel.
It is easy to find bookstores, language learning classes, and exam tutorials on Taobao. Alibaba-backed edtech startup VIPKid, English tutoring firm New Oriental (NYSE:EDU), and after-school education service provide TAL Education (NYSE:TAL) all operate their stores on Taobao.
As online classes remain people’s first option to continue their studies during the pandemic lockdown, more than 5,000 educational institutions have opened new stores on Taobao in the first five months of the year, the company claims. Alibaba’s enterprise software DingTalk has also gained momentum in the sector of online education.
DingTalk’s CEO Chen Hang said as of the end of March, the application has more than 300 million users with over 130 million of them using the platform for remote classes.