As the annual World Internet Conference kicked off Sunday in the picturesque Chinese town of Wuzhen, many of the country’s web executives were touting a somewhat unwieldy buzzword: the “industrial internet.”
The term refers to how Chinese internet firms are increasingly pivoting to business services after a rapid decades-long expansion that has focused mainly on consumers.
Wang Xing, CEO of China’s largest online-to-offline (O2O) service provider Meituan Dianping, is certainly excited by the industrial internet’s potential. “I think there are huge opportunities in every sector,” he said at the conference.
Meituan is China’s largest food delivery platform with an annual active user base of 411 million and nearly 6 million active merchants. The company brings in the majority of its revenue from charging a fee to both costumers and merchants, as well as from advertising.
Citing Meituan’s restaurant management system and its app, Meituan Maicai, that connects merchants directly to suppliers, Wang said the company will increasingly look to sell technology tools to merchants to help them digitize.
However, generating cash from selling products to enterprises demands more patience as merchants tend to take longer considering a purchase than consumers, Wang added.
Zhang Jianfeng, chief technology officer at e-commerce titan Alibaba, suggest technologies like artificial intelligence are ripe for application in factories.
Zhang said internet companies, including Alibaba, are now working on developing industrial platforms that aim to streamline production procedures and connect different industries, Zhang said at the conference.
Contact reporter Mo Yelin (firstname.lastname@example.org)