Alibaba Flexes In Southeast Asia

Alibaba is setting the stage to expand its hold on Southeast Asia.

Last week, Alibaba and Southeast Asia acquisition Lazada, the leading eCommerce platform in Thailand, reportedly signed an agreement to provide eCommerce training to 30,000 Thai SMBs. The deal reportedly also positions Alibaba, said eMarketer, to advise Thailand’s postal service, Thailand Post, on shipping and logistics.

Alibaba has striven to build a greater international footprint to balance out losses from a slowing domestic market. The eCommerce giant purchased controlling shares of Lazada in a $1 billion deal earlier in 2016. Lazada operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and has access to a consumer base of about 620 million.

Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, with its population of over 620 million, is predicted to be the next site of an eCommerce boom. The region’s internet economy is projected to become a $278 billion market by 2025.

Experts expect major growth in all online sectors for Southeast Asia, especially in the area of mobile payments, as companies across the region invest more in digital infrastructure. In total, the region has about 150 million digital customers as of 2016.

But Alibaba won’t get the Southeast Asian market that easily. Competitor Amazon is also hatching plans to land in the region — starting with the launch of Amazon Prime and Amazon Fresh in Singapore in the first quarter of 2017.

Pawoot (Pom) Pongvitayapanu, the CEO and founder of local Thai eCommerce marketplace, was quoted as saying, “I think in the next 10 years, there will be a few very big eCommerce sites. Alibaba or Amazon, they’re going to control the world. That’s coming for sure.”

Let the next eCommerce battle begin — the two online shopping giants have been duking it out in India and on Alibaba’s home turf for a while now. Neither side shows any signs of resignation.