China's Taobao opens Singapore office as SEA hub

Alibaba opens an office in Singapore to expand its e-commerce unit Taobao Marketplace, which will serve as the company's Southeast Asia hub and support its customers and business in this region.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--Alibaba's e-commerce business unit Taobao Marketplace has opened an office in Singapore to serve as the company's Southeast Asia hub, supporting its customers and presence in this region. 

The company has over 280,000 registered users here and another 210,000 across the border in Malaysia. Worldwide, Taobao Marketplace has over 500 million registered users and is the largest consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform in China. 

Speaking at the launch here Tuesday, Taobao International Business' director Daphne Lee said: "We've seen tremendous growth locally in the last few years, most of which has been generated through organic interest of e-commerce platforms. Our focus is to continue helping local consumers find new products and services that fit in with their lifestyle and making their shopping experience much more convenient."

Marking the launch with a new regional site targeting Taobao customers in Southeast Asia, the e-commerce portal will also offer dual-language registration next month, supporting both Chinese and English, as well as an English Quickstart Guide. A customer hotline will also be available for consumers in Singapore.

The company's online payment service, Alipay, will also be extended to support local customers across the region. The service is currently available via Alipay Purchase Card at AXS kiosks located across Singapore. 


Eddie Wu, senior vice president of Alibaba Group, said at the launch today: "Singapore is the ideal location from which to explore opportunities for businesses within the Southeast Asian region to find their place within our platforms. Our platforms serve a community of more than 500 million registered users and have contributed to millions of related businesses and industries. The potential for local users in Singapore exists and we're looking forward to growing together with local businesses and consumers."

Logistics service providers can also tap the company's platform to offer International Parcel Forwarding Service (IPFS) to Taobao customers in Singapore, who can then select this delivery option when they place their orders on the e-commerce portal. This will eliminate the need for shoppers to use a third-party forwarding service provider, enabling them to directly choose to have their goods shipped to the warehouse of a designated IPFS, which can then consolidate the purchases, calculate the overall weight, and deliver the package to the customer's overseas shipping address. 

Taobao customers in Singapore can also enjoy free shipping promotions offered by sellers on the e-commerce site, as well as free shipping within mainland China. 

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said earlier this month that the company's e-commerce business would exceed the U.S. retail e-commerce market by the end of 2013. Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Ma was quoted in a China Daily report posted September 14: "Alibaba hopes to exceed Wal-Mart to become the world's biggest e-commerce retail company by 2015...[and] is creating the consumer-to-business retail model in this century."

According to November 2012 figures, transactions on Alibaba's two consumer shopping sites--Taobao Marketplace and Tmall--hit 1 trillion yuan (US$153 billion).  

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