Alibaba founder Jack Ma gave clear signals that his business, the world’s largest internet retailer, is ready to expand into India. In general, Asia’s e-commerce industry is rapidly-growing yet complicated.

Speaking at an event held by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ma further investments in the West Asian country. Such a move would likely make India one of the most important battlegrounds for online retailers.

“We will invest more in India and work with Indian entrepreneurs and technologists to improve the relationship of the two nations and to improve the lives of human beings,” said Ma, who was recently made the richest person in China from a public listing on the New York Stock Exchange that raised US$25 billion – the largest IPO ever.

Alibaba already has a team in India, but it is only a small group that provides supplier and customer support, along with a limited amount of localization for their website and services.


India Internet Penetration

India benefits from a rapidly increasing internet penetration rate, and analysts from Nomura expect that the country’s e-commerce market will be worth over US$43 billion by the year 2019.


Who are Alibaba’s Competitors in India?

Currently, the largest e-commerce platform in India is Flipkart – but the local company is much smaller than Alibaba, as well as Amazon, which is focused on expanding globally at a rapid place. Flipkart is valued at US$7 billion, while Alibaba and Amazon are worth US$282.4 billion and US$155.4 billion respectively.
“(Alibaba) will disrupt the market. Look at what Amazon did. That is exactly what Alibaba will do. Lot of noise and immensely deep pockets,” explained Avinash Raghava, a co-founder of software think tank iSpirt.

Just a day after Flipkart received US$1 billion in funding from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Amazon committed to expand into India while investing US$2 billion. This move, in addition to Alibaba’s intentions, highlight the competitiveness and future prospects of the Indian online retail market, where 300 million of the country’s population of 1.2 billion are already using the internet on a regular basis.


About Ashoke Gupta

Ashoke is an expert in international trade and has worked in over 10 countries during his life, from Panama to Japan. He currently lives in his hometown of Mumbai and is an expert on West Asian markets.
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