Alibaba Seeks ‘Senior Experience Officer,’ Chinese Square Dancers Welcome

Wanted: Two Chinese senior citizens, influential in their social circles and maintaining “harmonious” relationships with their children. Must have at least one year of online shopping experience. And a bit of Chinese square dancing knowledge wouldn’t hurt.

OK, the square dancing line is made up, but Alibaba’s latest job ad is really targeting the over-60 set, seeking a pair of “Senior Experience Officers.” The goal: To shape a new version of Taobao aimed at China’s aging, but e-savvy consumer population.

Jian Ding, who heads the new channel’s development, said this new Taobao for retirees will make it easier for them to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

“We are crafting a new version of Taobao that is customized for senior consumers, catering to their unique habits and needs,” said Ding. “Besides satisfying their online shopping demands, we want to create something that helps them strengthen relationships with the younger generation, bring them closer together.”

The successful applicants will need to organize group discussions for their similarly aged peers, and provide feedback about senior citizens’ experiences of using the new version of Taobao, according to the job ad.

Within a day of posting the job ad, Alibaba received over 1,000 resumes from applicants ranging from former teachers, judges, police officers to public servants interested in the role—which would pay RMB 350,000-400,000 annually. Applications are coming in from as far as Taiwan and southwestern Yunan province. The company said the oldest applicant is an 83-year-old retired scientist from Hangzhou, who has an engineering degree from Tsinghua University.

Alibaba said the selection process has already begun, with staff working overtime to sift through resumes and inquiries. It plans to invite around 20 candidates to meet with product managers at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

Alibaba said many of the application letters they have received were “very simple and sincere. [Applicants] talked about the exciting lives they are leading after retirement and shared stories about them and Taobao. Some of them own a shop on Taobao and have plenty of experience shopping online, some were suppliers for Taobao when the company just started out, while others want to challenge Jack Ma to a round of Tai Chi.”

An aging China has hastened the rise of the so-called “silver economy.” The number of people over 60 years old is expected to exceed 255 million by 2020—up from 230 million in 2016, equivalent to 16.7 of the country’s overall population—according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

According Alibaba’s latest figures, over 30 million Taobao users are over 50, with over 75 percent falling in the 50-59 range, and nearly 20 percent aged 60-69.