This blog post was written by CMR Business Analyst Michelle Wei and CMR Senior Analyst Ben Cavender.
Proving yet again that e-commerce is for real in China Alibaba Group (1688.HK) is planning an aggressive expansion plan which will see China’s dominant e-commerce platform get even stronger. The company has signaled its intent to expand its current workforce by 40% to over 17,000 employees.
Taobao, Alibaba’s ecommerce platform is growing by leaps and bounds. According to Alibaba by the end of 2008 Taobao had 98 million registered users, by April this number had already jumped to 120 million. In a country where approximately 300 million people are going online either by computer or by mobile phone e-commerce is becoming a reality.
To expand in the market Alibaba is investing heavily in complementary services such as a minority stake in mobile web browser company UCWEB as well as testing mobile payment systems as Alibaba has rightly realized that many Chinese are getting their internet fix via mobile phone.
Further showing the importance of Taobao as an e-commerce platform in China Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 (NASDAQ:MSFT) is also working to integrate Taobao search functions directly into its browser making a direct search of Taobao listings one step easier and major Japanese retailer Uniqlo has opened its China online store via Taobao.
To read more on China's e-commerce sector, read CMR MD Shaun Rein's commentaries in Forbes and BusinessWeek on the subject.