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Alibaba launches paid membership program

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Thursday announced 88 VIP, a new loyalty initiative that gives paying members access to exclusive benefits across commerce, entertainment and local services.

The program is an extension of Alibaba’s existing loyalty program, 88 Membership Club, which is free for Tmall and Taobao customers.

Loyalty members who have 1000 points or more can choose to pay an additional RMB88 per year (around $17) to become a VIP member. Those with less than 1000 points can pay RMB888 per year (around $176) for the upgrade.

VIP members receive a 5 per cent discount on purchases from Tmall Supermarket and from 88 local and international brands on Taobao and Tmall. They also gain access to Alibaba’s video-streaming platform Youku, music-streaming platform Xiami, on-demand delivery service and online ticketing portal Taopiaopiao and others.

Alibaba estimates the total value of benefits available at up to RMB2000 (around $397) and says it will continue to bring more exclusive offers to paid VIP members with the aim to attract more users.

“Customers always take center stage at Alibaba. With the introduction of New Retail, customers are more engaged both online and offline. The decision to have an exclusive membership tier is not just about rewarding our most active members, it’s also about building an all-around experience our customers can enjoy every day,” said Chris Tung, chief marketing officer of Alibaba Group.

“The move exemplifies why we launched our membership program in the first place – to provide our customers with not just goods, but also a better lifestyle. We want our ’88 VIP’ members to enjoy the best shopping discounts, the most-entertaining content and the most-reliable local services that Alibaba can offer,” Tung said.

Alibaba created the free 88 Membership Club in August 2017, when it merged its previously separate Taobao and Tmall loyalty programs into a single membership platform. This has allowed the company to leverage consumer insights to better connect brands with club members.

Customers accumulate points based on transaction volume, as well as the level of their engagement.

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