REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is banking on its subsidiary AliExpress, a shopping platform targeted at foreigners only, to boost its profile in the global arena
According to Cainiao President Wan Lin, his company has teamed up with various postal services to ensure faster customs clearance, including a partnership with US Postal Service, Brazilian Post, a stake purchase in Singapore Post and an e-commerce tie-up with Australian Post.
AliExpress has also become an intrinsic part of life for many women in Spain.
“The wedding is perhaps the most important occasion for women in the country,” said Zuniga Perez Pell, an employee of AliExpress in Spain. “In the past, Spanish women never chose wedding dresses online. Now, it has become a ritual to browse AliExpress first before deciding on where to get a dress.”
Alfonso Noriega Gomez, economic and commercial counselor of the Consulate General of Spain in Shanghai, pointed out that e-commerce is a key driver in promoting trade and economic relations and a major gateway to discover products around the world.
“Through Tmall and Tmall Global, Chinese consumers are able to enjoy products from Spain. We hope AliExpress can bring to life the virtual Silk Road by connecting Chinese merchandise with foreign
countries including Spain,” he said during an AliExpress conference in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in April.
Alibaba’s global expansion will likely be a win-win scenario for both global shoppers and exportdriven Chinese manufacturers who are transitioning from being original equipment manufacturers to providers of more premium products.
NewVision Arts, a Chinese curtain maker in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, is one of the Chinese companies that have benefited from the growing global presence of AliExpress. According to its general manager Cheng Shouxin, the company receives a steady stream of orders from US clients for tailormade curtains and can earn up to $850,000 in revenue a month.
Alibaba has also sought to gain a larger share of the global e-commerce pie through acquisitions. In 2016, Alibaba acquired Singapore online grocery platform Red Mart. Technology news site TechCrunch quoted sources saying the deal was worth up to $40 million.
That same year, the Chinese e-commerce giant also bought a controlling stake in Lazada, one of Southeast Asia’s largest online shopping platforms, for $1 billion. This June, Alibaba invested another $1 billion to raise its stakes to 83 percent, buying out all other backers with the exception of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.
Lazada has a footprint in several markets in the region, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Alibaba said in a recent report that Lazada had about 23 million active customers in the 12 months through the end of March 2017.
Alibaba is also in the midst of building an e-commerce and logistics hub in Thailand that will provide a one-stop service connecting SMEs, manufacturers, service providers and logistic partners. In addition, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s digital financial services arm that operates Alipay, bought a stake in Thai fintech company Ascend Money in 2016.
More foreigners are starting to shop on AliExpress platform as Alibaba’s footprint expands to more than 220 countries and regions.