Alibaba attempted to break the perception of being the eBay or Amazon of China by investing actively in start-ups like Snapchat and pushing into the field of social media and entertainment. Now it appears the divergent interests of Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma are beginning to pay off, thanks to its Taobao app, reports Gulf News.

Alibaba
Arrive at the #nyse and is greeted by the Alibaba/Taobao mascot. It IS a brave new world. by jardenberg on 2015-09-30 13:30:40

Mixing social with e-commerce

Alibaba’s Taobao app enables users to join a chat group for fishing enthusiasts, purchase a new rod, and book a trip, among other actions. This one-stop-shop format has resounded well with young Chinese users, who are spending more time on the site than users of Twitter’s or Amazon’s mobile apps. Individuals visit the app more than seven times each day for more than 25 minutes, on average. In comparison, they spend around nine minutes on Amazon’s mobile app and 16 minutes on Twitter, the report says.

“To capture the attention and imagination of young people you have to provide more social features,” said Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s co-founder and vice chairman. “We want to continue the sense of community so that they will come back and engage with the platform.”

In 2003 with the intent of coming up with an eBay-like site, Alibaba introduced Taobao for small businesses and entrepreneurs to sell directly to consumers. In the last few years, the company introduced more social and entertainment features on its app to attract people and keep them on the site for a longer time. This increases the chances of products being purchased.

Taobao offers its users 1,000 special interest groups where they can chat about wedding planning, baby showers, etc.  According to Tsai, more social features will be added to Taobao with the aim of bringing in more sales, the report says.

Alibaba plans to expand in India

In other Alibaba news, the Economic Times reports that Alibaba has been in talks to buy ShopClues, an Indian online marketplace. The online company is valued at roughly $1 billion. On the overall gross merchandise value (GMV) of products sold, the online marketplace reported revenue of $750 million last year. The China-based retail giant is reportedly planning to merge ShopClues with Paytm – another online marketplace in India. Alibaba holds a 40% ownership stake in Paytm, the report states.

Amazon has made e-commerce in India its top priority. It recently invested an extra $3 billion into its e-commerce operations in the nation, bringing its aggregate investment there to $5 billion. Alibaba will need to put more time and cash into India’s e-commerce industry in order to compete with Amazon, as about 36% of Indian consumers cite Amazon as their most-trusted online shopping brand, notes TRA.

Photo by jardenberg