Every day several million Russian shoppers browse Aliepxress.com, and those Russian consumers’ orders result in hundreds of thousands of packages being shipped each day from China to Russia, according to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s leading e-commerce company and the parent company of AliExpress.
Launched in 2010, Aliexpress.com is an online marketplace that mainly sells products from China to 200 countries. It has become the No. 1 online retail site in Russia in terms of sales, followed by Russian e-commerce site Ozon and a web shopping mall operated by U.S. based eBay Inc., according to research firm TNS Russia.
In terms of web site traffic, Aliexpress.com ranks No. 9 among all websites in Russia and it is the only e-commerce site in the top 10.
Aliexpress.com now is a global marketplace where 200,000 sellers, most of them Chinese, offer consumers worldwide a total of 100 million products in 30 categories, including apparel, electronics and food. Most products ship for free to anywhere in the world, although consumers in some countries may have to wait a month for delivery, Alibaba says.
In order to boost sales in Russia, Alibaba in April rolled out a Russian-language version of AliExpress, ru.aliexpress.com, that accepts the most popular online payment options for Russian shoppers.
Alibaba says Aliexpress offer a place where Russian consumers, especially those living in smaller cities or towns, can access a vast selection of products at low prices, including many items that they can’t find in their local markets.
In addition to launching a Russian-language site, Alibaba in March began offering local warehouse services in Russia so that merchants can stock their most popular products in the country and deliver those items faster to Russian consumers.
“Two years ago, after a Russian girl ordered products on Aliexpress.com, she probably would have to wait 40 to 60 days. Now the shipping time has been shortened to 10 to 20 days, or even faster in some areas,” Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said when he spoke in Russia last week at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Besides selling from China to Russia, Aliexpress is recruiting Russian merchants to sell to local consumers via ru.aliexpress.com. Alibaba also is introducing Russian products into China as well via its cross-border import marketplace, Tmall Global, the company says.
In the past several years, Aliexpress has been one of the fastest-growing businesses inside of Alibaba Group, growing its sales at an average of 300% every year, according to the company. AliExpress generated $4.5 billion in cross-border sales in the 12 months ended June 30, 2014, Alibaba reported to investors last year in a presentation leading up to the company’s record-breaking $25 billion initial public of offering of stock on the New York Stock Exchange in September.
Other Chinese e-commerce companies are also investing in Russia. JD.com, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer China 500, which ranks retailers by their online sales in China, launched a Russian-language e-commerce site this month.
Alibaba is not ranked in the China 500 because it is not the merchant of record for sales conducted on its online marketplace, but rather provides a platform where other merchants can sell. However, Alibaba’s big marketplaces in China, principally Taobao and Tmall, account for about 80% of China’s e-retail sales.
Cross-border e-commerce is growing, and almost half of global web consumers will purchase across borders by 2020, according to a research released recently by consulting firm Accenture and Alibaba.