Amazon sets up shop in China on Alibaba platform

Wheeled robots are helping out workers at the US e-commerce giant. (Amazon)
Wheeled robots are helping out workers at the US e-commerce giant. (Amazon)
Amazon

Shanghai - US online retail giant Amazon has set up shop on the business-to-consumer platform of Alibaba as it seeks a greater presence in the massive Chinese market.

The Seattle-based firm is offering food, women's footwear, toys and kitchenware through its store on Tmall.com which was "quietly" launched on Thursday, Chinese media reported. Amazon's storefront carries the message: "It's Day 1."

Amazon and Alibaba are considered competitors in some areas but unlike the US firm the Chinese company has no product stocks of its own, simply providing a trading platform.

"We welcome Amazon to the Alibaba ecosystem and their presence will further broaden the selection of products and elevate the shopping experience for Chinese consumers on Tmall," said an Alibaba spokesperson.

Tmall is estimated to hold more than half the market in China for business-to-consumer transactions.

Amazon is not new to China. It opened an official store on Tmall for its Kindle e-book reader in 2014.

Competition

The firm made its first foray into China in August 2004 through the acquisition of Joyo.com, an online retailer of books, music and videos. The website was re-branded as Amazon.cn in 2011.

"China's e-commerce industry is fast-growing and nobody wants to miss it," said Yang Xiao of e-commerce services provider HC International. "Amazon wants to add an additional distribution channel in China."

He said the move could be aimed more at China's JD.com, which has a similar business model to Amazon and also competes with Alibaba.

"It's simple game logic - an enemy's enemy is a friend," Yang said. "Amazon is more likely targeting JD.com and it's a win-win situation for Tmall."

Amazon is initially selling nearly 500 items, with more expected to be made available later.

As of Friday morning, the top sellers on the Amazon store included a 220-yuan ($36) German drinks container, and canned almonds imported from the US with a price tag of 44 yuan ($7).

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