Done betting, Alibaba is getting down to work in Southeast Asia as it bids to lead the region’s promising e-commerce space and maximize its early mover advantage over Amazon.
Alibaba became the first major international player to enter Southeast Asia, a region with more than 600 million cumulative consumers, when it bought a majority stake in Lazada, the Rocket Internet-backed venture, nearly one year ago. Amazon, Alibaba’s key foe in India, is still to make its move, having pushed back a planned Q1 2017 entry to later this year.
If the Lazada deal was a test of the water, then Alibaba is now ready to get soaked. Two smaller (but notable) developments this week show it is executing on a plan to build out a strong presence in Southeast Asia, where e-commerce is forecast to reach $88 billion by 2025, according to a 2016 report co-authored by Google.
Removing barriers, opening doors to China
Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma has spent the past year hobnobbing with a range of heads of state across the region’s key countries, including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, Ma’s dabbling in politics bore its first fruit as Malaysia’s government partnered with his e-commerce firm — and its affiliates Cainiao (logistics), Ant Financial (fintech) and Lazada — to launch a series of initiatives aimed at easing red tape and barriers around cross-border e-commerce in Malaysia. (Malaysia’s government appointed Ma as an economic advisor last November.)
It is proof that the project is very much strategic to Alibaba’s aim of connecting Southeast Asia with China.
On home-turf it has hundreds of thousands of sellers operating across its Taobao marketplace and other services. Taobao is already embedded in many parts of the country — more than 1,000 so-called “Taobao Villages” have relied on the service to stimulate financial regeneration — and it could increase its audience further still through more direct links in Southeast Asia.
But Alibaba isn’t waiting around for initiatives like that in Malaysia to get off the ground, it is already forging opportunities for Taobao in Southeast Asia. This week, it bridged Taobao with Lazada through a new feature that debuted in Singapore. Lazada Singapore is boosting its existing catalog of five million products with the addition of 400,000 listings that have been selected from Taobao.
“We want to solve those difficulties, enabling an effortless way for them to shop. Now it’s all translated into English and you don’t have to worry about shipping options, payment method, returning. You are going to be able to track your order end-to-end,” Lazada Singapore head Alexis Lanternier told Bloomberg.
Source : This is part of the article originally posed on TechCruch.com