Alibaba deepens foray into Australia and New Zealand with new operation down under

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 11:00pm

Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce company, plans to ratchet up its Asia-Pacific cross-border retail activities with the launch of operations in Melbourne to serve online merchants in Australia and New Zealand.

New York-listed Alibaba announced on Tuesday the planned opening of its new office in the capital of the Australian state of Victoria later this year, following this week’s four-city roadshow by company president Michael Evans in the two countries.

“A stronger presence [in Australia and New Zealand] will advance our global goal of serving two billion consumers, while supporting tens of millions of small businesses, brands and retailers across the world,” Evans said.

Cross-border retail e-commerce sales in mainland China are forecast to reach US$85.76 billion this year, up from US$57.13 billion last year, on the back of growing domestic demand for quality merchandise from foreign markets, according to research firm eMarketer.

It attributed the rapid surge in cross-border e-commerce purchases by mainland consumers over the past two years to increased activity on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform and the JD Worldwide site of Tencent Holdings-backed

A stronger presence [in Australia and New Zealand] will advance our global goal of serving two billion consumers
Michael Evans, Alibaba president

Data from eMarketer showed that the number of cross-border online retail buyers in China are projected to swell to 128 million this year, a 71.7 per cent increase from 74.6 million last year.

The best-performing products from Australia and New Zealand sold on Alibaba’s local Tmall site and Tmall Global include food and beverage, cosmetics, and a range of goods for mothers and infants, the Hangzhou-based company said.

Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, estimated that there are a total of 1,300 Australian brands already found on Tmall and Tmall Global.

Maggie Zhou, the managing director of Alibaba Australia, said the new Melbourne office and expanded team there “will be well-positioned to support Australian and New Zealand merchants already on our platforms, as well as new merchants looking to expand into China”.

In April, Alibaba entered into a memorandum of understanding with business development agency New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to support the expansion of that country’s brands in China.

Evans said Alibaba’s “infrastructure support” in areas such as payment, cloud and logistics for Australia and New Zealand merchants provide “the tools they need to access international consumers, while at the same time improving the experience of consumers who want to shop globally”.