AliExpress becomes Europe’s biggest e-commerce site

Alibaba-owned e-commerce site AliExpress has overtaken Amazon to become Europe’s biggest online marketplace according to Cross-Border Commerce Europe (CBCE), a platform dedicated to fostering cross-border e-commerce in Europe.

As part of an annual study mapping the 100 best global marketplaces operating in the EU-28 (27 current member states plus the UK), CBCE scored sites on four “cross-border performance” parameters: number of countries covered, sales in Europe, SEO indicators, and percentage of cross-border visits to the site.

The results revealed that AliExpress rose from second place last year to finally take top spot, surpassing American behemoth Amazon, which slid down two places. Other American retailers Etsy (#2), eBay (#4), and Uber Eats (#8) also featured in the ranking, as did Lithuanian second-hand clothing exchange Vinted (#10).

Another Chinese contender Temu jumped into the ranking for the first time, bumping off German retailer Zalando to take 9th place. Owned by Pinduoduo’s parent company PDD Holdings, Temu was founded just over a year ago and has been aggressively promoted on Facebook and Instagram over the past year.

AliExpress was originally intended as a B2B platform when it was founded in 2010, but later switched to a B2C business model when the developers discovered 70% of users were individuals.

After slow growth in its first decade, the platform seemed to appear out of the blue on overseas search engines a few years ago, spawning many discussions online about whether the service is “legit” due to its ultra-low prices. In fact, 90% of merchants operating on the site are based in China and source their merchandise directly from Chinese manufacturers, accounting for the low prices at the consumer-facing end.

The study from CBCE also revealed that China-based third-party sellers are dominating across the board, a trend they describe as “Made in China, Sold by China, Marketed by China, Delivered by China”. According to CBCE, many online marketplaces are looking to increase their share of third-party sellers and reduce their own stock, hoping for closer competition with rapidly expanding C2C sites (e.g. Vinted).

In 2022, China-based third-party sellers achieved a GMV of 200 billion USD on Amazon and 47 billion USD on AliExpress worldwide, with these figures expected to double and Amazon’s share of China-based sellers expected to hit 65% by 2026.


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