Alibaba rolled out Rhino Smart Manufacturing platform to allow merchants to produce small scale fashion items

3 min readSep 16, 2020


On September 16, Alibaba’s new manufacturing platform, Rhino Smart Manufacturing, which has been kept “secret for 3 years”, was officially unveiled. On the same day, “Project One” and “Rhino Smart Manufacturing Factory” were also officially put into operation. The opening of this digital factory clearly stated that it specializes in taking small orders, serving small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs, and helping them to have the ability to compete with big brands.

“It sold out last night, let’s chase an order today.” When the reporter visited the Rhino factory, he met a brand leader of Lie’er Baby. He said that after the pre-sale of Taobao live broadcast last night, he placed a small order of 200 pieces. “These clothes will be worn in the whole country in 7 days. For consumers, it’s time to catch up with the new autumn clothes.” A few months ago, Lie’er Baby customized a batch of constellation T-shirts through the rhino factory. “With 12 constellations, different colors, and different sizes, only 5,000 pieces are produced. There are almost no factories on the market that can take this order.”

Inside the Rhino Smart Manufacturing Facility

In the factory workshop, there are more than a dozen such small orders at the same time, and shirts, T-shirts and other autumn models of different brands are circulating on the same production line. At the same time, in other large domestic factories, you will see that they are producing next spring clothing. In contrast, the two styles are quite different. To sum up, the rhino factory has an obvious new manufacturing style: the orders are not large, the styles are in season, the sell is produced, and the brands are many.

Style is ability. The core ability of Rhino Factory lies in “customization on demand, 100 pieces minimum order, 7 days delivery as soon as possible”. In short, it takes only 7 days from the time the order is placed to when the consumer wears it. This allows clothing brands to take off and catch the fashion trend.

This may be the first time that the clothing industry is approaching the speed of the fresh food industry. You must know that the autumn clothing in the past is actually the “futures” produced in the summer-ranging from 2 months to 6 months. In Tmall clothing brand Miancang CEO Yao In Kun’s eyes, the traditional clothing industry seems to be gambling, “Order 2 months in advance, but who knows what will sell after 2 months?”

This “production-based sales” model has its drawbacks, because the sales volume is unpredictable and the production scale of a single model is too large, so high inventories often occur. In this industry, inventory is often the key to the survival of a company.

And when manufacturing is no longer stupid and clumsy, and can be produced based on sales and flexible manufacturing, this will have a greater impact on small and medium businesses. After Taobao’s trendy women’s clothing brand Xiao Chong became the first batch of newly-manufactured pilot partners, it has been “returning customers” and “basically no inventory pressure.”

In addition to being fast, the more important innovation of the Rhino Factory lies in the direct connection of Alibaba’s industry insights, sales forecasts, design, and production, so that the upstream and downstream of the supply chain can achieve “smart understanding”. The threshold for merchants to launch explosive models will be greatly reduced.




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