Fight for India: What Alibaba Plans Against Amazon

Amazon vs. Alibaba

Great analysis on the pros and cons for Alibaba in the coming battle with Amazon in India at Tech in Asia: For one, Alibaba owns the mobile browser that comes preloaded on many Chinese smartphones (which also get sold in India):

Last month in Alibaba-owned UCWeb’s headquarters in Guangzhou, I got a glimpse into its keenness to take on the likes of Google and Facebook outside China’s walled garden. “Instead of competing with global companies in China, we’re competing with them in India, which is an open market,” Alibaba Mobile Business Group president Jack Huang told me in an interview. The UC Browser, which comes preloaded on Chinese smartphones flooding global markets, is the most actively used mobile browser in India, according to StatCounter.

​Right now, it looks like Alibaba’s entry into India will be through increasing its stake in Paytm to more than 50%:

Unconfirmed reports say Alibaba is pumping US$200 million into India’s mobile commerce and payments company Paytm, on top of the US$680 million it had invested along with its Ant Financial spin-off in 2015.

​Most interesting: Paytm will most likely launch its own marketplace, similar to Alibaba’s Tmall:

Now it is making its move with Paytm E-commerce, which is expected to launch a new website called Paytm Mall as an Indian version of Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce marketplace in China.

Amazon Prime is already shaping up to be a good differentiator for Amazon. Amazon Prime launched last July in India. The one area, Amazon India is still very weak at are groceries:

One area that Amazon is yet to crack in India is online grocery, so India’s BigBasket rules this sub-domain – for now. There are niche ecommerce sites with some traction. And there’s also the Shopclues play for consumers who go for cheap, unbranded apparel, where the value for money is hard to establish.

Still, India is a massive market and it is one where, like in China, people use the mobile Internet. It may well be that Alibaba’s UC Browser, little known in the Western world, could become an important building block in securing a significant share in Asian markets like India.

Both the Chinese and Indian markets are massive and predominantly mobile: that could be a factor in Alibaba’s favor, especially with the rise of UC Browser. […]

India is now second only to China in number of internet users – 462 million. And four-fifths of them access the web from mobile devices. As mobile payments become easier with digital wallets, payments banks, and a unified payments interface, it opens new opportunities.

All this still leaves the question how Snapdeal and Flipkart will fare. Never count out local, focussed companies. But at the same time, both companies are far outmatched when it comes to the ressources Amazon and Alibaba have at their disposal.

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