Alibaba's fiscal 2017 revenue climbs 56 percent on cloud, mobile commerce growth

Chinese e-commerce giant clocks US$22.99 billion revenue for the year ended March 31, with cloud generating US$968 million on 121 percent growth year-on-year and mobile accounting for 80 percent of its retail revenue.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Alibaba has reported a 56 percent increase in revenue to US$22.99 billion for its fiscal 2017, ended March 31, fuelled by strong growth in cloud computing and its core commerce businesses.

The Chinese e-commerce operator said its commerce revenue, which included the Tmall and Taobao marketplaces, grew 45 percent year-on-year to hit US$19.45 billion. The online retail sites added 31 million active users for the year to reach 454 million, while its English site AliExpress and Southeast Asian e-commerce operator Lazada had a combined annual active buyer base of 83 million.

It also 97 million monthly mobile active users to reach 507 million, with active buyers for the year totally 454 million. Mobile gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted on its Chinese retail marketplaces climbed 49 percent to hit US$433 billion, accounting for 79 percent of the total volume in 2017, which grew 22 percent over the previous year to reach US$547 billion.

Mobile revenue for its Chinese e-commerce business increased 80 percent to US$13.18 billion, generating 80 percent of its total retail revenue in the country. Monetisation of its mobile commerce platforms outstripped that of desktop.

Retail revenue per annual active buyer grew to US$36, while, annual mobile revenue per monthly mobile active user was US$26.

For the quarter, 85 percent of e-commerce revenue in China was transacted on mobile devices, compared to 71 percent year-on-year.

Alibaba also saw its cloud computing revenue climb 121 percent to US$968 million for the fiscal year, where its paying customer base grew 70 percent to 874,000. However, the business unit reported an operating loss of US$73 million for the quarter, on adjusted EBITA loss of US$24 million. It closed the year with a loss of 1.68 billion yuan (US$244 million), improving on last year's operating loss of 2.61 billion yuan (US$378.1 million).

The vendor said it was the largest public cloud services provider in China last year, citing figures from IDC. Alibaba added that its cloud clientele encompassed both startups and large enterprises across various verticals, including energy, financial institutions, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Its CEO Daniel Zhang said: "Our core commerce segment continued its significant growth and strong cash flow at large scale, enabling our aggressive investment in cloud computing [and] digital media and entertainment to drive the digital transformation of the economy and high-quality consumption across China."

Alibaba earlier this week inked an agreement with German industrial manufacturer, Bosch Group, to jointly research and develop new connected devices that tapped Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and artificial intelligence.

Both companies' research teams would partner on these projects and design products based on consumer data from Alibaba. Bosch's board member for Asia-Pacific, Peter Tyroller, said: "In the internet era, consumers are paying increasing attention to the overall consumption experience, rather than simply the product itself. This urges us to change our rather product-and-technology driven mindset, and become a more user-centric company."

Tyroller said the partnership would provide a channel to "communicate directly with consumers, keep the [Bosch] brand closer to consumers, and design a unified brand experience journey for users of our different product categories".

The group currently operated four stores on Tmall peddling a range of products, including home appliances, power tools, as well as heating and cooling systems.

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