US online retail giant Amazon.com Inc has set up shop on the business-to-consumer platform of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) as it seeks a greater presence in the massive Chinese market.
The Seattle-based firm is offering food, women’s footwear, toys and kitchenware through its Tmall.com (天貓) store, which was “quietly” launched on Thursday, Chinese media reported.
Amazon’s storefront carried the message: “It’s Day 1.”
Amazon and Alibaba are considered competitors in some areas, but unlike the US firm, the Chinese company has no product stocks of its own, simply providing a trading platform.
“We welcome Amazon to the Alibaba ecosystem, and their presence will further broaden the selection of products and elevate the shopping experience for Chinese consumers on Tmall,” an Alibaba spokeswoman said in a statement yesterday.
Tmall is estimated to hold more than half the market in China for business-to-consumer transactions.
Amazon is not new to China. It opened an official store on Tmall for its Kindle e-book reader last year.
The firm made its first foray into China in August 2004 through the acquisition of Joyo.com (卓越), an online retailer of books, music and videos. The Web site was rebranded as Amazon.cn in 2011.
“China’s e-commerce industry is fast-growing and nobody wants to miss it,” e-commerce services provider HC International Inc’s (慧聰) Yang Xiao said. “Amazon wants to add an additional distribution channel in China.”
He said the move could be aimed more at China’s JD.com (京東), which has a similar business model to Amazon and also competes with Alibaba.
“It’s simple game logic — an enemy’s enemy is a friend,” Yang said. “Amazon is more likely targeting JD.com and it’s a win-win situation for Tmall.”
Amazon is initially selling nearly 500 items, with more expected to be made available later.
As of yesterday morning, the top sellers on the Amazon store included a 220 yuan (US$36) German drinks container and canned almonds imported from the US with a price tag of 44 yuan.
China in 2013 overtook the US to be the world’s largest online retail market, with firms such as Alibaba among the most prominent, but the Chinese e-commerce giant has also been criticized by Beijing for failing to stop sales of fake goods through its online platforms, which has in turn raised questions by US stock market regulators.
In related news, the Office of the US Trade Representative released its latest list of so-called notorious markets, identifying sites that cause “significant financial losses” for US companies to piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement.
The survey identified physical marketplaces in 10 nations where significant amounts of counterfeit goods are sold — Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand and Uruguay.
Particular areas of concern are Argentina’s La Salada, which the report identified as South America’s largest black market; the Silk Market in Beijing, where vendors reportedly have access “to a supply of newly manufactured counterfeit products to replace those that have been confiscated”; the Harco Gladok market in Jakarta, listed as Indonesia’s largest trade center for consumer electronics and related goods; and the Computer Village Market in Lagos, Nigeria, reportedly the largest market for knockoff computer products and accessories in the nation.
China is the source of many of the counterfeit goods sold in markets in Prado, Italy; Lagos; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Bangkok, according to the report.
The report lists a number of Web sites on which enforcement activities have cut down on the quantity of counterfeit goods sold, including Seriesyonkis.com, Aiseesoft.com, Xunlei.com, wawa-mania.ec, Mp3skull.com and Share-rapid.cz.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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