New e-commerce courses from Alibaba group and Singapore Institute of Retail Studies

(From left) Deputy principal of development at Nanyang Polytechnic Edward Ho, chairman of board of governors at Nanyang Polytechnic Tan Tong Hai, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, principal and CEO of N
(From left) Deputy principal of development at Nanyang Polytechnic Edward Ho, chairman of board of governors at Nanyang Polytechnic Tan Tong Hai, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, principal and CEO of Nanyang Polytechnic Jeanne Liew, vice-president of Training College of Taobao University Lewis Lew, vice-president of Alibaba Group Brian Wong, and director of SIRS Megan Ong.PHOTO: ALIBABA GROUP

SINGAPORE - China's retail giant Alibaba, along with Nanyang Polytechnic's Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS), are offering courses for 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 for sign-ups will be made available on the SIRS Digital Commerce website.

They will be in addition to the existing programmes available for the corporate sector, said Ms Megan Ong, director of SIRS, adding 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 the first-ever public lecture by Alibaba Group in Singapore on Thursday (April 12).

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 aims to help local businesses better understand the potential of the online market.

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

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

In grooming talent in technology, the Government has formulated the Retail Industry Transformation Map in 2016 to help businesses increase competitiveness. This includes helping them in innovation, and using technology to increase productivity.

Mr Brian Wong, vice-president of the Alibaba Group, sounded a warning to 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.

Other speakers at the lecture shared their e-commerce expertise, such as online globalisation strategies, and also provided tips for cross-border trade.

Many of those who attended the lecture recognised the need to keep up with the times.

"Success has not come yet, but I can see positive hope. We are transforming all the time," said Mr Winston Tai, the 71-year-old managing director of Diamondlite International and assistant director of Havil Watch.