April 15, 2024


The Business & Finance guru

Examination: Alibaba’s e-commerce empire beneath threat from Douyin, Pinduoduo

BEIJING, Dec 9 (Reuters) – For extra than a 10 years, Alibaba Team (9988.HK) has been China’s undisputed e-commerce king but of late its crown has shown indications of slipping, unsettled by an inflow of intense opponents into the sector.

This 7 days, Alibaba introduced it was reorganising its e-commerce businesses into two models, 1 for China and just one for abroad.

In China, its two principal marketplaces – Tmall for set up manufacturers and Taobao which welcomes all kinds of retailers – system above $1 trillion in orders every year.

Sign-up now for No cost unrestricted access to reuters.com

But Alibaba is viewing sharply slower expansion in buyer administration earnings (CMR), the cash derived from charging merchants for providers which generally accounts for a single-3rd to a person-50 % of its general revenue. It rose just 3% in the July-September quarter, down from 20% advancement a 12 months earlier.

Alibaba final month also slice its annual revenue forecast whilst gross sales or gross merchandise price (GMV) for Singles Day, its banner browsing celebration, this yr climbed only 8.5% – the smallest rise to day.

All those disappointing quantities are because of in component to regulatory improvements and pandemic-induced slower economic progress that has made customers unwilling to splurge.

But they also emphasize the onslaught of levels of competition and the reality that some rivals have stolen a march over Alibaba in the quickest-increasing locations of China’s e-commerce.

Retailers and analysts cite ByteDance’s Douyin – the Chinese sister app to TikTok and a relative newcomer – as the drive to defeat in stay-streaming e-commerce, though Nasdaq-mentioned Pinduoduo Inc (PDD.O) has taken the lead in rural and budget e-commerce.

“Other platforms are growing more rapidly than Alibaba, which usually means they are consuming Alibaba’s lunch,” reported Lu Zhenwang, CEO of Shanghai-primarily based Wanqing Consultancy.

Alibaba said in a statement to Reuters it has often confronted intense competitors. It additional it delivers merchants a strong are living-streaming device in Taobao Live and that its Taobao Discounts system for discounted browsing and Taocaicai platform for group team acquiring had been gaining share in decreased-tier markets.


Douyin is focusing on a leap in GMV to more than 1 trillion yuan ($155 billion) this calendar year, in accordance to a business source with immediate know-how of the make a difference. The source was not authorised to talk to media and declined to be determined.

Which is extra than 6 situations the 150 billion yuan it was on keep track of to earn previous 12 months – a determine given by resources in November 2020.

Douyin declined to comment on its e-commerce small business.

The app, which features 600 million-additionally each day lively people, began making it possible for retailers to open stores on its system in 2018. This calendar year the enterprise has created it less difficult for brands to open flagship outlets.

Yatsen (YSG.N), the father or mother of Chinese cosmetics big Excellent Diary, options to commit far more in its Douyin presence. By comparison, its sales on Tmall, which accounts for about 40% of its profits, are contracting.

“Douyin, suitable now, is starting to be a very crucial issue for model growth,” CEO Huang Jinfeng informed an analysts’ get in touch with final month.

Merchants are attracted to the volume of time customers devote on Douyin – 1,871 minutes on average in October as opposed to 350 minutes on Taobao, according to consulting company Questmobile.

Additionally, while Alibaba’s viewer traffic tends to converge on China’s greatest are living-streaming famous people – Li Jiaqi, regarded as the Lipstick Brother, and Viya, a former singer – they are just two men and women. In contrast, Douyin can draw on a substantial pool of are living streamers.

Zen Yan, a 42-12 months-aged auditor residing in Beijing, is an avid Douyin shopper.

“It’s uncomplicated to spend a person hour or additional surfing on Douyin just about every day following operate and there are a good deal of influencers providing all forms of factors,” she mentioned.

Low-cost AND Powerful

At the other stop of the e-commerce spectrum is Pinduoduo. It truly is well-liked amongst China’s rural inhabitants many thanks to rock-base pricing and a group getting model that encourages end users to share their purchases on messaging platforms to get cheaper costs.

Its GMV surged 66% to 1.67 trillion yuan in 2020. Whilst much more modest 20% GMV growth is envisioned in the fourth quarter, according to Goldman Sachs, that would still be significantly much better than Alibaba’s new showings.

Pinduoduo declined to remark.

Rural e-commerce is more of a people today organization than standard e-commerce and Alibaba is several years behind Pinduoduo in forming interactions with vital regional retailers and makers, analysts say.

“For individuals who are by now employed to Pinduoduo to obtain bargains, it is difficult for them to swap to a new platform. The exact goes for factories or regional grocery sellers who are used to Pinduoduo,” stated Daphne Tuijn at Shanghai-primarily based analytics business Chaoly.

Alibaba also can’t engage in viral advertising as effectively as Pinduoduo, hampered by its absence of direct entry to a messaging system like Tencent Holdings’ (0700.HK) WeChat, she extra.


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

Even so, its problems are plentiful and analysts doubt Alibaba can convert again the clock to when it was exhibiting the swiftest expansion in Chinese e-commerce.

Douyin and Pinduoduo are only two of at the very least 10 established competitors. JD.com remains its closest rival although Meituan (3690.HK) and Baidu Inc (9988.HK), giants in lookup and food items shipping respectively, are increasing their e-commerce choices. At the exact time, smaller startups are focusing on market segments like sneakers and makeup.

And though its impression has been tricky to quantify, Alibaba has also been harm by a regulatory crackdown that pressured it to abandon a plan of requiring interested merchants to solely set up shop on its platforms.

“I you should not imagine Alibaba can reverse the situation…it can only undertake a defensive system,” reported Wanqing Consultancy’s Lu.

($1 = 6.3749 Chinese yuan)

Sign-up now for No cost limitless accessibility to reuters.com

Reporting by Josh Horwitz, Sophie Yu and Yingzhi Yang Enhancing by Brenda Goh and Edwina Gibbs

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Believe in Ideas.