Will Alibaba’s e-commerce programme in Singapore standout?

The Alibaba brand is something which should not be trifled with especially with the growing importance of e-commerce. Banking on the trend, Alibaba has opened up a six-day course on entrepreneurship and e-commerce targetting the SMEs.

This is the first time the course is being offered outside of China by the Alibaba Business school – a joint venture by the Alibaba Group and Hangzhou Normal University, of which famed Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma (pictured) is chairman of.

The course costs a hefty SG$8,800 and the first three days are held in the Singapore Management University and the next three in Hangzhou Normal University itself. The fees do not cover flight and accommodation costs. Nonetheless, according to a recent report in The Straits Times,  the course has already seen close to fifty sign ups.

Clearly, the demand for education in the e-commerce field is strong and Alibaba’s offering shows a welcomed urgency to adopt new skills and mindsets in the region.

“We are seeing a large number of new non-traditional training providers from Hyper Island to Google raising the temperature for companies around the urgency to adopt new skills and new mindsets, become more entrepreneurial and take digital change more seriously in this region,” Jonathan Briggs, co-founder and academic director at Hyper Island said.

Hyper Island also currently offers courses for the marketing and advertising industry.

He added, this shows maturing of Alibaba of their role in the market. When asked if this would be a competitor to courses offered by Hyper Island, he said the Alibaba offer is likely to be different but complementary to what Hyper Island offers.

"As a whole, is good news for Singaporeans who are looking to up skill and remain relevant in the digital economy,” Briggs added.

Chloe Neo, managing director of OMD Singapore said this move not only shows Alibaba’s strategic move in market expansion and globalisation but also the opportunity to recruit more users while creating value through education.

It also adds a new dimension to current e-learning courses available.

“The current e-learning offers focus on digital thought-leadership and marketing, while Alibaba fills the gap in digital entrepreneurship and e-commerce. Singapore is definitely the right launch pad with our demand for education, high technology adoption and the government push for overseas expansion of businesses," she said adding:

This could be a significant initiative to spur the e-commerce scene locally.

According to Julian Chow, account manager & digital consultant at Text100, while this can aid consumers into getting the courses they need specifically to meet their business objectives, the real challenge is that there are so many options today (from institutions like Hyper Island and General Assembly, to pure online platforms like Udemy and Coursera).

Alibaba Business School would really need to standout in terms of the value proposition they’re bringing to the table, which in this case seems to be tapping on Alibaba’s e-commerce heritage to differentiate the course from the rest of the offerings out there.