Alibaba’s e-commerce empire underneath menace from Douyin, Pinduoduo

Alibaba’s e-commerce empire underneath menace from Douyin, Pinduoduo

By Sophie Yu and Josh Horwitz

BEIJING (Reuters) -For much more than a decade, Alibaba Group has been China’s undisputed e-commerce king but of late its crown has shown signs of slipping, unsettled by an inflow of aggressive competitors into the sector.

This week, Alibaba announced it was reorganising its e-commerce firms into two models, a person for China and a person for overseas.

In China, its two main marketplaces – Tmall for established manufacturers and Taobao which welcomes all forms of merchants – method over $1 trillion in orders every year.

But Alibaba is observing sharply slower progress in shopper management income (CMR), the dollars derived from charging retailers for providers which ordinarily accounts for a single-third to one-fifty percent of its in general income. It rose just 3% in the July-September quarter, down from 20% expansion a yr earlier.

Alibaba very last thirty day period also lower its once-a-year profits forecast business/chinas-alibaba-misses-quarterly-revenue-expectations-2021-11-18 though gross sales or gross items benefit (GMV) for Singles Day, its banner searching celebration, this calendar year climbed only 8.5% enterprise/chinese-condition-newspaper-blasts-worship-turnover-right after-alibabas-singles-working day-2021-11-12 – the smallest increase to date.

These disappointing quantities are owing in component to regulatory improvements and pandemic-induced slower economic advancement that has designed customers unwilling to splurge.

But they also spotlight the onslaught of competitors and the truth that some rivals have stolen a march in excess of Alibaba in the fastest-expanding locations of China’s e-commerce.

Retailers and analysts cite ByteDance’s Douyin – the Chinese sister application to TikTok and a relative newcomer – as the drive to defeat in stay-streaming e-commerce, though Nasdaq-shown Pinduoduo Inc has taken the guide in rural and price range e-commerce.

“Other platforms are rising more quickly than Alibaba, which means they are taking in Alibaba’s lunch,” claimed Lu Zhenwang, CEO of Shanghai-primarily based Wanqing Consultancy.

Alibaba reported in a assertion to Reuters it has generally faced extreme competitors. It extra it offers retailers a highly effective dwell-streaming resource in Taobao Stay and that its Taobao Specials platform for price reduction procuring and Taocaicai system for local community team getting have been attaining share in reduced-tier markets.


Douyin is focusing on a jump in GMV to more than 1 trillion yuan ($155 billion) this 12 months, in accordance to a company source with direct knowledge of the make a difference. The resource was not authorised to speak to media and declined to be discovered.

Which is a lot more than 6 instances the 150 billion yuan it was on keep track of to receive last 12 months – a determine given by sources in November 2020.

Douyin declined to remark on its e-commerce business enterprise.

The application, which boasts 600 million-additionally everyday lively users, started letting retailers to open shops on its system in 2018. This calendar year the firm has built it much easier for models to open flagship shops.

Yatsen, the father or mother of Chinese cosmetics huge Great Diary, plans to devote a lot more in its Douyin presence. By comparison, its product sales on Tmall, which accounts for about 40% of its earnings, are contracting.

“Douyin, appropriate now, is getting to be a really critical factor for model expansion,” CEO Huang Jinfeng informed an analysts’ phone final month.

Retailers are attracted to the volume of time consumers invest on Douyin – 1,871 minutes on normal in Oct in comparison to 350 minutes on Taobao, in accordance to consulting agency Questmobile.

Additionally, when Alibaba’s viewer website traffic tends to converge on China’s greatest are living-streaming celebs – Li Jiaqi, known as the Lipstick Brother, and Viya, a former singer – they are just two folks. In distinction, Douyin can attract on a significant pool of stay streamers.

Zen Yan, a 42-year-aged auditor dwelling in Beijing, is an avid Douyin shopper.

“It really is easy to invest 1 hour or far more browsing on Douyin each working day just after work and there are a ton of influencers promoting all varieties of matters,” she mentioned.

Inexpensive AND Impressive

At the other finish of the e-commerce spectrum is Pinduoduo. It is preferred among China’s rural citizens many thanks to rock-bottom pricing and a team obtaining model that encourages buyers to share their buys on messaging platforms to get cheaper price ranges.

Its GMV surged 66% to 1.67 trillion yuan in 2020. Although additional modest 20% GMV growth is expected in the fourth quarter, in accordance to Goldman Sachs, that would nevertheless be much more robust than Alibaba’s latest showings.

Pinduoduo declined to remark.

Rural e-commerce is additional of a people organization than normal e-commerce and Alibaba is a long time behind Pinduoduo in forming associations with critical area retailers and suppliers, analysts say.

“For people who are now employed to Pinduoduo to purchase bargains, it is hard for them to switch to a new platform. The similar goes for factories or community grocery sellers who are employed to Pinduoduo,” said Daphne Tuijn at Shanghai-based analytics corporation Chaoly.

Alibaba also cannot have interaction in viral internet marketing as successfully as Pinduoduo, hampered by its lack of immediate obtain to a messaging platform like Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, she additional.


Alibaba is revamping its e-commerce company – the newly unveiled reorganisation follows the launch of Taobao Specials last year and a rebranding of two group marketplaces into Taocaicai in September.

Even so, its difficulties are abundant and analysts doubt Alibaba can flip back the clock to when it was showing the fastest progress in Chinese e-commerce.

Douyin and Pinduoduo are only two of at the very least 10 proven opponents. continues to be its closest rival while Meituan and Baidu Inc, giants in lookup and foodstuff supply respectively, are growing their e-commerce offerings. At the exact same time, smaller startups are concentrating on market segments like footwear and make-up.

And even though its impression has been really hard to quantify, Alibaba has also been damage by a regulatory crackdown that pressured it to abandon a policy of requiring fascinated retailers to completely established up store on its platforms.

“I never believe Alibaba can reverse the predicament…it can only adopt a defensive technique,” explained Wanqing Consultancy’s Lu.

($1 = 6.3749 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz, Sophie Yu and Yingzhi Yang Editing by Brenda Goh and Edwina Gibbs)