WPP Launches China E-Commerce Venture With Alibaba Alum

WPP is participating in the launch of a new joint venture company in China, called Polestar, to offer e-commerce services, a sector that is booming in the country. 

The new company will be led by its principal investors -- CEO Figo Yang, and COO Allen Liu. Both are successful entrepreneurs who bring together years of e-commerce expertise gained at Alibaba—which just launched the world’s biggest initial public offering—and other firms including Netease, Yahoo!, HP and UTC.

Yang was also a founder of Wang Cang, China’s first company to automate and systematize critical warehousing operations in the e-commerce sector. WPP Digital has invested a minority stake in Polestar.

China's e-commerce market is the world's largest, having surpassed the US in 2013, with Chinese online shoppers forecast to spend $540 billion in 2015 according to Bain & Co. And WPP is placing a bet on the market believing that it can help fill a void of companies that are qualified to service the huge demand for e-commerce solutions in the country.



Polestar and various WPP companies will work with Chinese and international clients to establish and manage all aspects of their Chinese e-commerce operations, from marketing through to purchase, fulfilment and delivery, across multiple consumer platforms such as Alibaba’s Taobao (C2C) and TMall (B2B), JD.com and the mobile messaging service WeChat. 

Polestar is also developing products and services in the emerging O2O (online to offline) sector, including an e-commerce data management platform allowing clients to track, measure and optimize their e-commerce operations. 

"Understanding and monetizing the e-commerce opportunity is a top priority for all brands in China, and by partnering with Polestar we can now offer our clients a one-stop solution, a first in China,” said WPP CEO Martin Sorrell.

Polestar’s Yang added, "We are delighted to work with WPP and its agencies, and to help their clients become e-commerce leaders in China." 

The new joint company was launched at a signing ceremony on September 23 in the Hangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone, with strong support from the provincial government, per WPP.

The venture marks WPP's continued expansion into Greater China where WPP companies generate annual revenues of $1.5 billion with almost 15,000 people. In the Asia Pacific region, WPP companies generate revenues of $5 billion and have almost 50,000 people. 

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