(Yicai Global) April 17 -- AliExpress, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s [NYSE:BABA] international shopping and retail platform targeting customers outside China, announced that the number of its overseas buyers exceeded 100 million.
"The number of overseas buyers exceeding 100 million is a milestone event for AliExpress," China Business Journal quoted AliExpress General Manager Shen Difan as saying.
AliExpress has spread to more than 220 countries and regions, and the number of active buyers reached more than 60 million in the past year, of which 59 percent were mobile users, the platform's data shows.
It has competed with online sales sites such as Amazon and Ebay for global buyers and has not achieved a goal set by Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma to serve 2 billion global consumers. It is also concerned with how to get Chinese sellers and manufacturers to export goods to other regions and countries using e-commerce and how to strive in areas ranging from logistics to user experience.
The fact that AliExpress, which is generally low-key, made a statement about its numbers may indicate it is on the offensive and that it is set to go toe-to-toe with Amazon.com Inc. [NASDAQ:AMZN] and Ebay Inc. [NASDAQ:EBAY], who also operate business-to-consumer (B2C) cross-border e-commerce platforms connecting Chinese sellers with the world.
Ebay gave up on its consumer-to-consumer business in China after being unable to keep up with Alibaba in 2008 and went on to focus on cross-border B2C. In the past five years, Ebay has concentrated on the UK, the US, Australia, and other traditional mature markets, while AliExpress has targeted Russia, Brazil, and other emerging markets.
Since last year, Ebay has worked to expand in emerging markets, while AliExpress' sphere of influence has gradually branched out from Russia and Brazil to countries such as the US and Spain.
At the end of last year, Ebay announced that European minority language countries, led by France, Italy, and Spain, would be the "new blue ocean" for cross-border e-commerce retail and export.
"Ebay once did not recommend that Chinese sellers make breakthroughs in these minority language countries, but now the time is ripe," said Zhou Haiying, general manager of China Cross-border Trading BU at Ebay Marketplaces.
Chinese sellers are attracted to Amazon for its inherent advantage in the US. Before 2012, they needed to use an American company to have a presence on the site, but since Amazon started its Global Selling program, they have been allowed direct access via Chinese investment teams.
Aided by favorable policies in goods shelving and traffic, the number of Chinese sellers on Amazon has grown rapidly over the past four years. Amazon launched the Amazon Business Seller Program (B2B) for Chinese sellers at the Global Selling 2016 Conference with the aim of helping 'made in China' migrate to cross-border e-commerce.
"Amazon and Ebay enjoy higher market acceptance in traditional mature markets such as North America and the west," said Chen Tao, cross-border analyst from Eguan. "Now AliExpress has also started to advance in these markets, and Alibaba may accelerate market expansion by acquiring local e-commerce businesses."
Consumer markets in North America and Western Europe are relatively mature and consumer spending power there is stronger, so e-commerce giants may face more intense battles in these markets, Chen said.