CKGSB Knowledge - China Business and Economy

DELIVERING CONVENIENCE

South-East Asia has become the latest battleground for e-commerce companies. Can China’s tech giants win by proxy?

In the first hour of the November 11 24-hour online shopping frenzy known as Singles Day, South-East Asia’s top e-commerce platform Lazada received a record 3 million orders—double the previous year’s number. The orders flooded in from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and elsewhere, in what is easily the most effective sales event in the region. But for Lazada, its focus on Singles Day may also have something to do with the 83% ownership stake that Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba holds in it.

In many parts of the world, the idea of online shopping and Amazon go hand in hand, but in South-East Asia, it is players with Chinese involvement that have taken the lead. It was Alibaba that created Singles Day in its home market a decade ago, taking consumerism in China to new heights. In 2019, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales reached an unprecedented $38.4 billion, well above 2018’s $30.7 billion.

China’s e-commerce market remains robust, but the market has matured, causing Alibaba and its competitors to look overseas in pursuit of new avenues of growth. Neighboring ASEAN countries, which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to the south, were an obvious

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