Lazada brings Alibaba's biggest bazaar to Singapore

Dedicated site lets people buy directly from Taobao - and there'll be more products too

Alibaba Group Holding and Lazada Group are teaming up to sell select Taobao products direct to shoppers in Singapore, striking their first partnership since the Chinese company took control of South-east Asia's largest e-commerce operator a year ago.

Lazada is launching a dedicated website that links directly to Alibaba's largest shopping platform, said Lazada Singapore chief executive Alexis Lanternier.

To start with, the new site will add 400,000 Taobao products that are not as yet available to an existing line-up of about five million products, he said. It is another small step abroad for Alibaba, which aims to expand beyond China.

The company and Lazada are preparing to deepen their operations in the fast-growing region, anticipating Amazon.com's entry this year.

EFFORTLESS WAY TO SHOP

Now it's all translated into English and you don't have to worry about shipping options, payment method, returning. You are going to be able to track your order end-to-end.

LAZADA SINGAPORE CHIEF EXECUTIVE ALEXIS LANTERNIER

The South-east Asian company has been expanding its delivery network and exploring new areas such as online groceries.

In linking up, Taobao and Lazada are trying to ease a process that has gained momentum. Shoppers in Singapore already buy from Alibaba's Chinese marketplace, an online bazaar where small merchants and individuals hawk items from electronics to bedsheets. 

Its items often go for a fraction of retail prices in Singapore. Many people, however, buy through agents who help with English translations, payments and deliveries - for a fee. That has led to problems with returns, Mr Lanternier said.

Scams may be another issue. Taobao re-joined the Notorious Markets list last year, a name-and-shame pool of global markets that the US Trade Representative considers rife with counterfeits.

Taobao can be hard to police because it is an open marketplace, but Lazada will take swift action to protect consumers if it is notified of fakes, Mr Lanternier said. 

"We want to solve those difficulties, enabling an effortless way for them to shop," Mr Lanternier said, adding: "Now it's all translated into English and you don't have to worry about shipping options, payment method, returning. You are going to be able to track your order end-to- end."

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Lazada brings Alibaba's biggest bazaar to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe