Ever since Alibaba’s mega U.S. IPO announcement, the world has been paying extra-close attention to China’s e-commerce industry. While Alibaba is the clear front runner in the race so far, its stellar performance belies a slowing Chinese economic growth. In addition, its ties to China’s troubled and opaque finance industry has left industry experts wondering if Alibaba can hold on to its crown, especially after it lost market share to rivals in China last year.
In the episode of Thoughtful China embedded above, Yu Gang, co-founder and chairman of Chinese e-tailer Yihaodian, Jeff Sprakin, head of Asia at e-commerce exhibitions organization IRCE, Alex Misseri, senior vice president at digital agency Razorfish, Patrick Deloy, executive director at e-commerce consultancy Bluecom Solutions, and Porter Erisman, director of Crocodile in the Yangtze weigh in on the current state of e-commerce in China and who’s ahead in the competition.
Erisman predicts that Alibaba will attempt to expand, but will face intense competition from major rival Tencent as smaller brands break away and build their own websites. He also predicts that Alibaba and Tencent will continue to push into areas that are deregulating in China, such as financial services, entertainment, and telecommunications.
Deloy says that China will continue to see e-commerce, search, and social media companies expand far beyond their original platforms. “They started in their own vertical,” says Deloy, talking about Aibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and Sina, “but they shifted also into other verticals and [are] trying to take away market share from the other players.”