Alibaba.com Ltd (阿里巴巴), the largest Internet based business-to-business site, launched its Taiwan subsidiary yesterday with the aim of attracting the nation’s 1.2 million small and mid-size enterprises (SME).
The launch comes eight months after the Chinese Web site’s founder and chairman, Jack Ma (馬雲), said during a visit to Taipei last November that Alibaba planned to enter the local market via strategic alliances with local firms.
The Web site connects small and medium-size buyers and suppliers around the world. There are over 30 million registered users from more than 240 countries.
“Since the SARS outbreak, we have seen our membership grow by multiples from 2002 through 2005. What was a disaster turned into a revolution on how people conduct businesses,” Steve Kang (康雲), Alibaba.com Taiwan’s senior business manager, said at a launch ceremony in Taipei yesterday.
“Right now, with high inflation and global economic distress, we can expect more people to enter e-commerce in order to save cost and increase revenue,” Kang said.
SMEs account for 97.77 percent of all enterprises in the country, or more than 1.2 million companies.
David Wei (衛哲), chief executive officer of Alibaba.com, said there are 40,000 registered users in Taiwan.
“Alibaba has opened two customer services locations in Taipei and Taichung to provide face-to-face service,” he said.
Research by United Parcel Service Inc showed that more than two-thirds of Taiwan SMEs’ main goal was expansion, UPS Taiwan general manager Gary Wu (吳信翰) said at the ceremony.
“Expanding into China and the rest of the world is the No. 1 priority for them. Alibaba provides the perfect global channel for these businesses,” Wu said.
Alibaba gained global attention in 2005 when Yahoo Inc announced it had purchased 40 percent of its shares for US$1 billion, while allowing Alibaba to own and operate Yahoo China as part of the deal.
Wei refused to comment when reporters asked if Alibaba wanted to purchase Yahoo Taiwan. He also declined to give sales forecast for the first year in the local market.
By looping Yahoo Taiwan in, Alibaba hopes to leverage Yahoo Taiwan’s 5 million users, he said.
Alibaba provides three platforms for its users in Taiwan: an international platform (www.alibaba.com), China platform (www.alibaba.com.cn) and Japan platform (www.alibaba.com.jp).
Taiwanese who sign up for the International platform will have free, unlimited access to the China and Japan platform as a bonus, Alibaba officials said.