Alibaba, NYP offer joint e-commerce courses

China's retail giant Alibaba and Nanyang Polytechnic's Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-Sirs) are jointly offering courses to those aspiring to enter the e-commerce sector.

Open to the public, the courses will not only offer insights into the Alibaba Group but also develop knowledge in content marketing and data analytics.

The first of four such courses to be held over the next two years will be available in July. Information on enrolment will be available on the Sirs Digital Commerce website.

They will be in addition to the existing programmes available to the corporate sector, said Sirs director Megan Ong, who added that the new courses are a timely introduction for the wave of new, young entrepreneurs.

"We need to understand that the world has changed. Peripheral businesses can spring up not just in e-commerce, but as a result of e-commerce," she said.

The courses are part of a 30-month extension of collaboration between Alibaba Group and Sirs, which included the first public lecture by Alibaba in Singapore yesterday.

More than 2,000 business owners and entrepreneurs attended the lecture jointly organised by the Alibaba Business School, Alibaba Taobao University and NYP-Sirs. It aimed to help local businesses better understand the potential of the online market.

The turnout was the best for the so-called Alibaba Global Course since 1,000 participants turned up in Jakarta in October.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, who spoke in Mandarin at yesterday's event, said: "Consumers are changing, and thus retailers must also innovate to continue establishing themselves in this digital economy.

The Government drew up the Retail Industry Transformation Map in 2016 to help boost businesses' competitiveness. It includes helping them in innovation and the use of technology to raise productivity.

Mr Brian Wong, vice-president of the Alibaba Group, warned Singapore businesses about the failure to adapt to new systems.

"Legacy systems, traditional ways of thinking about doing things, vertical supply chains, how all that worked in the past was probably the most efficient. But given the introduction of technology now, those things could become a disadvantage," he said. This could explain the high level of Internet usage but low rate of e-commerce in some countries, he added.