How Chinese giant Alibaba plans to take on Europe

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Alibaba may be the world’s biggest retailer, but so far its efforts outside Asia have been lacklustre. But all that may be about to change. With a European distribution centre poised to open and an army of European influencers signed up, Alibaba is now firmly eyeing the West. Can it succeed?

Alibaba has long been heralded as the dominant force in ecommerce in China. In the year to March, the etail titan surpassed $1trn in gross merchandise volume. 

However, the business is still a minnow outside China, with just 7% of its sales coming from international markets – a far cry from co-founder Jack Ma’s target of bringing half its sales from outside China by 2025.

But Alibaba is making moves to redress this, eyeing expansion in the West, and Europe is its big focus. Over the past two years, it has started building a distribution centre in Belgium, opened an AliExpress store in Spain and, just last month, revealed plans to sign up 100,000 content creators to try to grow its international business.

Right now it is holding a livestreaming marathon in France, with influencers carrying out 100 live product showcases in 10 days.

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