Lazada, the largest e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, has European plans. Owner Alibaba wants to bring the online marketplace to Europe, now that it has further tightened their grip on Liège Airport in Belgium.
Race with Shopee
Alibaba Group has plans to introduce its Southeast Asian subsidiary, Lazada, to Europe. With more than 159 active customers last year, it is Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce player. The company, which was founded ten years ago by Rocket Internet, has even set a target of 300 million by 2030. The Berlin accelerator was also behind Zalando and HelloFresh, but in 2016 Alibaba took over the majority stake in Lazada.
Europe is suddenly becoming interesting for Lazada, as major rival Shopee seems to be choking on the continent. Last year, the AliExpress-lookalike launched in Poland, Spain and France, but the platform has already withdrawn from the French market due to weak growth prospects. Alibaba believes it has a better chance of success because it has a strong logistics position in the Belgian freight airport of Liège. In November last year, Alibaba opened a new central hub at the airport for its logistics arm Cainiao, which it claims is the largest of its kind in Europe.
In need of expansion
Lazada would differentiate itself in Europe from its sister formula AliExpress by acting more as a local marketplace with European traders and sales partners, instead of the predominantly Chinese offer on AliExpress. James Dong, CEO of Lazada Thailand, will lead the initiative, Reuters reports.
Foreign expansion is important for Alibaba, as domestic Chinese growth is slowing down. The technology giant has to deal with strong newcomers such as Pinduoduo and TikTok sister Douyin, but also with tightening regulations that limit the power of the leading mega-retailers. Moreover, competition is heating up on the Southeast Asian market.