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AliExpress aims to have 1 billion international customers within seven years

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-11 07:58

AliExpress Ltd, a retail site that allows Chinese merchants to sell directly to foreign customers, aims to serve 1 billion users globally within seven years and build a "cyber Silk Road" following the Belt and Road Initiative.

The company, a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, had attracted more than 100 million international buyers as of April since its launch in 2010, said Dai Shan, president of Alibaba's business-to-business unit.

The Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to strengthen infrastructure, economic and trade ties in the Eurasian region, will lend AliExpress new momentum to grow its customer base tenfold in less than seven years, said Shen Difan, general manager of AliExpress.

The marketplace is the equivalent of Alibaba's business-to-customer site Tmall, but targets only overseas customers. The achievements highlight Alibaba's potential to challenge Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc in major markets outside China.

Dai said she hoped the platform could empower more China's small and medium-sized enterprises to seek overseas expansion.

Customers from more than 220 countries and regions have placed orders via the platform, according to the company. The top three countries ranked by total spending are Russia, the United States and Spain.

"Spain wants to make a strong effort with Alibaba and other major e-commerce players in China to bring the Belt and Road Initiative into full play," said Alfonso Noriega Gomez, economic and commercial counselor of the Consulate General of Spain in Shanghai.

It is also aiming for global delivery within 72 hours in the three to five years, leveraging leading algorithm and real-time analysis provided by Cainiao Network Technology Co Ltd, Alibaba's smart logistics network, said Cainiao President Wan Lin.

AliExpress has already found early success in Russia, by offering Chinese products including clothing and car parts at a lower price while boosting its advertising and teaming up with local payment providers. The platform has been the biggest shopping site in the country since 2014, according to researcher TNS.

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