Chinese e-commerce giant and pioneer of shoppable videos Alibaba is looking to recruit over 100,000 international influencers this year – rising to 1 million by 2023 – to help brands sell more across the globe through the group’s international retail platform, AliExpress, which claims to have 180 million annual active consumers.

AliExpress Connect – the group’s dedicated marketplace for connecting social media influencers with top brands and merchants looking to market their products – is looking for influencers to promote products on its online shops around the world. While live selling has been available to Alibaba sellers in China since 2016, AliExpress only added the Connect feature last year.

The move is Alibaba’s latest global push and comes at a time when Covid-19 is increasing social media usage. Alibaba hopes influencers will help accumulate users and encourage them to remain active as opposed to just making one-off purchases.

A few Shenzhen-based e-commerce exporters told TechCrunch that they are actively looking to work with international content creators, particularly TikTok influencers, to market their products through the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. At the moment, they use their Chinese staff to create low-budget promotional videos. Most of AliExpress’s sellers are from China while Russia is its biggest market for revenue. Its initial focus is Europe, where France, Spain, Poland and Russia have the majority of users.

“As e-commerce continues to grow and ‘shoppertainment’ reshapes the landscape and changes the way people shop online, influencers and content creators are playing a more important role in driving retail transformation and e-commerce success,” said AliExpress’ general manager Wang Mingqiang.

“You see this in livestreaming sales, which have become a great source of job creation and income in China, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, when offline businesses were forced to close, and people had to stay at home.

Influencers can connect their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Google accounts to AliExpress Connect with a single click. They will then be offered a variety of tasks and campaigns to complete, including creating original content for brands, sharing new favourite products and promo codes across their social channels. Commission fees can be based on the sales the influencers generate.

“AliExpress Connect is designed to create opportunity for both brands and influencers, as the world moves increasingly toward online shopping. It offers new income sources and job opportunities for influencers and content creators, helping them to scale and digitalize their business. While for brands, it opens up the opportunity to attract new customers,” commented Mingqiang.

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