Alibaba Group to launch first fully-owned ecommerce business in India

The Chinese behemoth said it is planning to foray in the ecommerce space through its subsidiary UCWeb, and that its entry will not have an adverse impact on Paytm or Snapdeal.

Alibaba Group to launch first fully-owned ecommerce business in India

Thursday September 05, 2019,

3 min Read

Alibaba Group is planning to launch its first fully owned e-commerce business this fiscal in India through its subsidiary UCWeb, a senior company official said on Thursday.

UCWeb Global Business Vice President Huaiyuan Yang said that the company's planned foray in ecommerce space will not have an adverse impact on Paytm, in which Alibaba owns 30.15 percent stake. Alibaba Group owns 3 percent stake in Snapdeal.

Providing more clarity on the business, UCWeb in a written response to YourStory, said,

"Rather than competing with other e-commerce players, the new initiative would adopt a content platform model for promoting and supporting e-commerce players in India. Leveraging our extensive user communities in India, the new service is in line with our strategy to enrich the experience for users and clients alike."

"We have Alibaba's ecommerce gene in us. We are actually trying to start innovative business model related to ecommerce. We are going to launch a new ecommerce product in India this year," Yang said on the sidelines of Alibaba Philanthropy forum.

UCWeb's UC Browser has been available in India since 2009. It claims to have registered 1.1 billion user downloads worldwide (excluding China) with half of its global installs from India. It also claims to have 130 million monthly active users in the country.

When asked about probable impact of UCWeb's foray into e-commerce on Paytm's business, Yang said,

"Ecommerce is very vast business. There are various part of ecommerce business and several products. UC will choose section according to our business. We will partner with the right players and we will not compete with them (Paytm)".

Alibaba has been watching India, and participating in opportunities conducive to its ecosystem.

In May, the Chinese technology behemoth also reportedly invested $100 million in VMate, a short video sharing app launched by UCWeb, the company's subsidiary, to venture into the lucrative social video app space in the Indian market.

According to media reports, the investment is Alibaba’s attempt to take on the growing social video apps market, which the company has missed out on completely in China. With VMate, it expects to fill the gap in India where the market is rapidly growing.

Recently, on the sidelines of Alibaba Cloud APAC Summit, 2019, Selina Yuan of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International, told YourStory that Alibaba’s cloud computing service is prepared for India and promised more developments in the coming year.

Alibaba has also invested in major Indian startups like Bigbasket and Zomato, apart from Paytm and Snapdeal.

(Update: The article was updated with inputs from UCWeb.)

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

(Edited by Suman Singh)