A rumble in the jungle: Amazon vs Alibaba

Alibaba’s recent IPO is impressive. How will its expansion into the American market affect Amazon?

Like the river it’s named after, Amazon is one of the largest of its kind.

In North America, Amazon sells more online than its next 12 competitors combined. It has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and is a leader in the online shopping industry.

However, it has recently met its match, and its name is Alibaba.

Brand pages on online marketplaces: A good idea, badly executed

If you were wise enough to setup an online marketplace in the early days of the internet and also had great business chops, you might have been a very rich person by now.

Some of the world’s biggest ecommerce companies are those that don’t actually sell any of their own products, or rely to a large extent on third-party sellers.

Amazon is the most obvious example, while eBay has also taken great pains to rebrand as a marketplace rather than an auction site (try saying that eBay is an auction site in a blog post and see how long it takes for the PRs to knock on your door).

Similarly, in the UK shifted from being an ecommerce site to an “online trading platform” after being bought out by Rakuten, a Japanese tech company that is best known for its Rakuten Ichiba marketplace.

Welcome to digital in China: the people, platforms and players

Given the sheer size of China’s economy and the all-encompassing power of its communist government, it’s easy to think of it as a place where speed and innovation might be stifled.

However the very opposite is true according to Ogilvy & Mather’s head of digital in APAC Barney Loehnis, who gave one of the keynote talks at Econsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing event.

Loehnis who has been working in Asia for eight years, describes the working environment as “brutal”.

Tencent and WeChat: 35+ facts & figures on the Chinese tech giant

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has captured the West’s attention recently thanks to its upcoming IPO and the launch of a new US marketplace called 11 Main.

However we’d be foolish to overlook its main rival in China, Tencent, which is equally capable of branching out for world domination.

The listed company has a market cap of more than $150bn and a portfolio of products that includes QQ instant messenger (818m monthly active users), Tencent Mail (274m), and Tencent Weibo (22m).

However most people will probably be more familiar with Tencent’s WeChat messenger app, which is seen as a rival to Facebook’s WhatsApp.

However unlike Facebook, Tencent makes most of its money from video games and sales of digital goods, with only 9% coming from ads.

To shed more light on the size of Tencent’s business empire, I’ve rounded up a whole load of stats on its user numbers and revenues.

And for more of the same, read my posts looking at 30+ amazing stats on Alibaba and discussing whether innovation by Chinese social networks gives a glimpse of Facebook’s future

Five important ecommerce trends in China during 2014

How big is Chinese ecommerce going to be in three to five years? McKinsey & Co. has produced a report suggesting that the market will be between US$420bn and US$650bn by 2020.

At the start of a new year analysts like to predict trends for the year ahead. When 2014 began there was a slew of predictions about the ecommerce landscape in China.

Now that it’s half way through the year I want to share with you some trends that are driving ecommerce in China. I’m going to look at how these trends have developed using some of the insights predicted by Chinese analysts.

Alibaba: 30+ amazing stats on China’s ecommerce giant

China’s Alibaba Group is gearing up for what could be the world’s biggest ever tech IPO, so it’s probably about time you discovered what the company is all about.

Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, who is now said to be worth more than $12bn. He served as chairman and CEO until May 2013 but stepped down to follow other business interests.

And to give an idea of the scale of the business, I’ve rounded up a load of stats that show why the world is so excited about its upcoming IPO.

For more information on this topic, read my blog post looking at 25 stats that show the scale of the ecommerce market in China

Ecommerce in China: Why are Western brands flocking to Alibaba’s Tmall?

Western ecommerce brands seeking to expand into China cannot ignore the 500lb gorilla that is Tmall.

Even ASOS was recently forced to admit that its best chance of cracking China was to establish a presence on Tmall, while Burberry became the latest UK fashion brand to open a Tmall storefront in April.

In fact the Alibaba-owned marketplace currently has around 2,000 foreign brands among its 70,000 sellers.

So what’s so important about Tmall that it can make the likes of Apple, Uniqlo, Reebok, and ASOS create a store within someone else’s domain rather than rely on their own website?

The B2C marketplace was spun out of Taobao in 2010, which is itself a C2C marketplace that’s similar to eBay. Tmall allows brands and retailers to establish a digital storefront, which is again similar to the new model offered by eBay.