Tata Group

Taobao signs up 1.2 million registered users in Hong Kong in overseas push

Online portal will initially improve service and make purchases easier for customers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 1:52am

Taobao.com the customer-to-customer online trading platform under mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, claims it now has 1.2 million registered users in Hong Kong. The figure topped 1 million in June.

"Hong Kong and Taiwan are the first steps of our effort to go overseas," said Daphne Lee, director of Taobao's international business. "We have no ambitious targets for these markets currently. We will focus on improving service this year, popularising the platform among more users and helping them purchase online more comfortably and conveniently."

The online shopping portal had 500,000 registered users in Taiwan at the end of August, Lee said. She believes raising that figure to 3 million is not "too far away".

Consumers in these areas are mostly interested in women's fashion, women's shoes and digital gadgets.

Lee said that in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Taobao users already could pay with credit cards issued in the two places. The next step will be to explore more co-operation with local partners, including banks, to offer other payment methods.

Sales of Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba's business-to-customer subsidiary, would surpass 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.22 trillion) this year, the company said previously. Jack Ma Yun, chairman and chief executive of the group, said over the weekend that the figure would surge 10-fold over the next three years. This was sharply more optimistic than the figure previously given by the firm of 3 trillion yuan in five years' time.

At 1 trillion yuan this year, Taobao's sales represent 5 per cent of gross retailing in China. By comparison, sales of Walmart accounted for about 8 per cent of the US retail sales, said Alibaba's chief strategy officer Zeng Ming.

"We will explore Taobao sales outside China starting this year," Zeng said. "Actually without any effort, more than 5 per cent of Taobao's gross merchandise volume is [from] out of China." The company attributes that growth to the large overseas Chinese population.

Lee said the platform also had many users in Singapore and Malaysia. Within the next two to three years, by working with overseas Chinese communities, the company aimed to develop a model that could be applied to all potential consumers outside China, she said.