Alibaba Group Holding is ramping up its international e-commerce expansion with the launch of an English-language portal on Tmall, a move that is expected to double the number of global brands on its flagship retail site.
The English-language portal on Tmall Global, China's largest cross-border online shopping platform, was launched on Wednesday with the goal to lure more merchants and businesses from around the world to sell high-quality imported products to consumers in the world's second largest economy, according to a statement from New York-listed Alibaba.
The company confirmed that it aimed to double the number of foreign brands on Tmall Global to 40,000 in three years, up from about 20,000 to date.
"Tmall Global's mission is to connect high-quality international brands across the globe with Chinese consumers," said Yi Qian, the platform's deputy general manager. "The (new English-language) website will widen our reach to merchants, especially to those medium- and small-sized businesses around the world."
The move comes more than a month after Alibaba, the parent company of the South China Morning Post, projected that its annual revenue will surpass 500 billion yuan (US$72.7 billion) this financial year, despite a trade war between the US and China.
Plans are already in place for Alibaba to increase investments in China's lower-tier cities and rural areas, helping the company engage more consumers. Lower-tier cities are estimated to account for only 20 per cent of total orders for Alibaba, which means plenty of room to grow for the company.
Alibaba's efforts to double down on its online retail initiatives have come amid a variety of headwinds in China " including the trade war with the US, a high debt level and financing bottlenecks for private enterprises " that have led Beijing to set a lower economic growth target range of 6 to 6.5 per cent this year.
Meanwhile, China's cross-border e-commerce has taken off since 2014, according to an October report by Deloitte. Sales of imported goods via the country's online retailers soared 39.8 per cent year on year to 78.6 billion yuan in 2018, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
The new English-language portal on Tmall Global provides a hands-on guide to overseas merchants on how to open a store on the platform and make use of tools such as Tmall Overseas Fulfilment, which provides a low-cost way to set up their business in China before they start selling to domestic consumers.
Businesses that want to open a flagship store on Tmall Global can fill out a questionnaire and input basic information about their operation. Qualified applicants will be contacted within 72 hours. Tmall Global will also advise merchants on how to optimise their operations after they establish a presence on the platform.
Tmall Global plans to launch other foreign-language sites, including Spanish, Japanese and Korean.
Introduced in 2014, the international brands on Tmall Global cover more than 4,000 categories and come from 77 countries and regions.
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