Alibaba: The World’s Largest Retail Business

Alibaba Group Holding Limited operates the world’s largest retail business in terms of Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) for the 12 months ended March 31, 2021, according to Analysys.

Its China retail markets include Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.

On the one hand, Taobao Marketplace is China‘s largest social commerce platform in terms of GMV for the 12 months ended December 31, 2020, according to publicly available data.

On the other hand, Tmall is the world’s largest third-party online and mobile commerce platform for brands and retailers in terms of GMV in fiscal 2021, according to Analysys.

During the same period, Alibaba generated approximately 66% of its revenue through its retail business in China.

Overall, the company’s new retail strategy is to develop a digital commerce infrastructure that offers an enhanced consumer experience by seamlessly integrating online and offline capabilities, including primarily: product and supply chain, compliance and delivery, consumer management, and development and operations of social commerce channels.


To implement its new retail initiatives, the company innovates in multiple business models and formats to meet diverse consumer demands.

In addition, Alibaba creates new retail formats through Freshippo (known as “Hema” in Chinese), its self-operated retail chain, which integrates online and offline operating systems and capabilities.

The company also digitizes the operation of offline retailers, such as Sun Art, through Taoxianda, its offline and online integration service solution for consumer goods brands and third-party grocery retail partners.

During fiscal 2021, the company established its Community Marketplaces business to better serve consumers by leveraging its next day pickup services and supply chain and fulfillment capabilities from Freshippo, Sun Art, Lingshoutong (零售 通) and other partners.

Wholesale trade

1688.com, China’s leading integrated national wholesale marketplace in 2020 by revenue, according to Analysys, connects wholesale buyers and sellers in a wide range of categories.

For its part, Lingshoutong connects consumer goods manufacturers and their distributors directly with small retailers in China, facilitating the digitization of small retailers’ operations.

These retailers, in turn, can offer their customers broader product selections.

Lingshoutong serves as an example of a new format that the company innovated to drive customer experience and operational efficiency.

Cross-border trade

Alibaba operates Lazada, a leading and fast-growing e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia that connects local consumers with local SMEs and regional and global brands.

Lazada provides consumers with access to a wide range of offerings, serving more than 100 million active consumers annually in the 12 months ending March 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, AliExpress, one of its international retail markets, allows global consumers to buy directly from manufacturers and distributors in China and around the world.

For import trade, Tmall Global enables foreign brands and retailers to interact and sell to consumers in China, and is China’s largest GMV-based import e-commerce platform in the 12 months ended March 31 of 2021, according to Analysys.

Kaola, an import e-commerce platform in China, further expands offerings and strengthens Alibaba’s leadership in cross-border retail and globalization initiatives.

The company also operates Trendyol, the leading e-commerce platform in Turkey, and Daraz, a leading e-commerce platform in South Asia with key markets in Pakistan and Bangladesh.


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