Chinese online marketplace has 552m customers, compared to Amazon’s most recently reported 310m customers.
It’s now been reported by Forbes that Alibaba is growing its teams across Europe, recently relocating to Covent Garden in London with a newly expanded staff of 60.
David Lloyd, managing director of Alibaba in the UK and Nordics, spoke to reporters about what this expansion is about and what it means for Alibaba’s strategy in Europe.
Speaking to Forbes during London Tech Week, David commented: “Well, we’re not doing what you’d expect us to do. We’re not going toe-to-toe with local ecommerce players.”
Instead, it seems that Alibaba is focusing on two main objectives.
The first priority for Alibaba is to connect more businesses and brands in Europe with consumers in China.
David said: “We have staff with great expertise in what those Chinese consumers are looking for. We have a logistics network which helps get your product from the UK to China. And we have an advertising platform that helps build your brand in China.”
However, David insisted that Alibaba’s growing presence in Europe and the US is not about going after consumers or challenging Amazon or Asos, adding: “In Asia, we have 552m active consumers, and that grew by 37m last year. It’s honestly quite hard to even find 37m consumers in the UK.”
Alibaba’s second mission in Europe is to get more of its services working here — not for locals, but for traveling Chinese tourists. In China, one of the fastest-growing payment methods is mobile payments, which work by scanning a shop’s QR code with a smartphone.
Alibaba’s Alipay, which boasts 520m users in China, isn’t recognised across most of Europe, but David and his team are working to change that, with Harrods, Selfridges, the Body Shop all currently accepting the mobile payment platform.
Aggressive growth goals have been set for Alibaba over the next decade. With plans to hit $1 trillion in gross merchandise value by 2020 and 2b customers by 2036, Alibaba could effectively become the world’s fifth-largest economy, selling to one in every five people on earth.