Business / Technology

Alibaba exec sees huge potential for e-commerce in LatAm

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-09-05 16:51

BUENOS AIRES -- China's leading e-commerce company Alibaba sees "huge potential to develop e-commerce" in Latin America, Michael Lee, Alibaba's director of global marketing and business development, told Xinhua in a recent interview here.

Despite the advantages of "a large market opportunity with highly capable entrepreneurs in Latin America," Lee also indicated the challenges of developing this market.

"Countries in the region show great varieties in terms of economy, Internet penetration and wide-ranging regulations governing e-commerce," he said. "This is why we feel we must study the region carefully on a case-by-case basis."

"For example, Chile is a small country, but it is at the same level as Brazil in e-commerce, as people there are used to buying online," Lee said.

Asked about the situation in Argentina, the Alibaba representative praised the local businessmen, calling them "highly-prepared, with great ideas." Yet he also acknowledged this sector's difficulties due to government regulations.

"While there are import and export restrictions in Argentina, when they are no longer necessary, everyone in this country will be ready to approach e-business," Lee said.

This has made Alibaba's mission in Argentina to "help small businesses grow via the Internet and perhaps become part of our offering," he said.

One of the challenges in all sectors of Latin America is "to educate consumers and show them that e-commerce is more effective than traditional ways of trading," Lee said.

In Latin America, the demand for e-commerce is driven by specific industries. While electronics and clothing dominate across the continent, Argentina has machinery in third place while Brazilians like to shop for hair extensions.

During an "E-commerce day" conference at the Hilton Hotel in Buenos Aires earlier this week, Lee educated a crowd of professionals on this sector's growth, and emphasized the rise of the business-to-business (b2b) global expansion model, which is already far larger than business-to-consumer (b2c).

On the future of electronic commerce, Lee believed the United States will continue as the "undisputed" leader and stressed the technology will become more accessible worldwide.

Alibaba Group owns other business sites that connect businesses and individuals together or crossed, such as Tmall, Taobao or AliExpress, and the retail sales site was ranked among the 10 most visited sales pages by Argentines in 2013.

What's more, the Chinese giant owns Alipay, an online payment platform, and owns stocks belonging to Sina Weibo and Youku Tudou, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter and YouTube.

In 2014, Alibaba's listing on the New York Stock Exchange became the largest global IPO of all time.

In conclusion, Lee told Xinhua that his trip to Argentina allowed him to deepen his local knowledge and understanding of Latin American consumers. "This is useful as we can go back and adjust our strategies to provide more tailored solutions," he said.

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