Alibaba expands to Europe with Lazada, taking on Amazon, Shopee and more

The Chinese tech giant Alibaba is gearing up for its foray into the European market with its Southeast Asian cross-border e-commerce arm Lazada, taking on global rivals including Amazon, Shopee (a Singaporean e-commerce company owned by SEA Ltd.), and the German online retailer Zalando, according to Bloomberg on 1 September.

“Europe is a very big market,” said Dong Zheng, CEO of Lazada and former business assistant to Alibaba’s CEO Zhang Yong, “for most European brands, Alibaba group is their biggest retail partner with products sold through the platform in both China as well as other overseas markets, and we would like to go where brands want us to go,” Dong continued.

However, the boss of Lazada has not yet revealed details as to the timetable for the expansion, nor information regarding countries it intends to enter, adding that specific plans would be dependent on the level of macroeconomic challenges and market conditions.

The move would be a further step by Alibaba to strengthen its market position in one of the world’s biggest online shopping markets. The Chinese e-commerce conglomerate has already been present in Europe thanks to its other subsidiary AliExpress, another popular online market space under Alibaba. While AliExpress serves Asian, mainly Chinese merchants, Lazada is set to target local European vendors, so that the two units don’t crossover with each other.

Founded in 2012, Lazada soon grew into a leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia with a user base of 150 million as of 2022 as well as a presence in six countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. The company became an Alibaba subsidiary after the latter acquired a major stake of 51% in 2016.

The strong performance of Lazada in the Southeast Asian regions signals hope for Alibaba in reviving its global ambition, which has been held back in recent years due to rivalry from Amazon and the expansion of Shopee in Europe. In stark contrast to Shopee which has been pulling back since its launch in Poland, Spain, and France last year, due to stagnated growth, Alibaba has shown confidence in the new marketplace and strives to double Lazada’s users by 2030 to 300 million.   


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