Alibaba processed some $37 billion in mobile payments last year and the Chinese online retailer is coming to America, hoping to apply that same digital prowess in the U.S. market.
Alibaba has submitted its initial public offering papers—the online giant plans to file its IPO in the United States—and mobile is clearly a big strength for the retailer. Mobile is mentioned a whopping 254 times in the papers, according to Mobile Commerce News.
China has the world's largest mobile Internet user base with 500 million users as of December 31, 2013, Alibaba noted in the filing. Mobile accounted for more than 76 percent of all mobile sales in China in 2013. That's roughly $37 billion. In China, electronic sales are split fairly evenly between mobile and computer, but Alibaba is determined to grow the channel.
And mobile usage is expected to increase, driven by the growing adoption of mobile devices. "We are the leader in mobile commerce in China in terms of mobile retail (sales). Our Mobile Taobao App has been the most popular mobile commerce app in China by mobile MAUs every month since August 2012, according to iResearch."
"We intend to build upon our strength in mobile commerce to develop a broader spectrum of consumer offerings, such as location-based services, O2O (online to offline) services and digital content, in order to fulfill our vision of becoming central to the everyday lives of our customers," the company writes. "We will also continue to look for ways to increase our mobile user base and engagement through strategic alliances, investments and acquisitions."
The company has been on a spending spree in the United States, investing in technology companies as varied as ride-share service Lyft to search engine Quixey and online shopping site ShopRunner. Like Walmart Labs, the investments and acquisitions buy coveted top talent, not just companies. And most have a mobile component.
Establishing an online retail presence and shopper trust in the U.S. could be a lengthy process, but not out of the question. Alibaba's online sales in 2013 were more than Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) combined. Just what Alibaba will do with the billions in extra capital expected to be raised in its IPO is uncertain, but more mobile investment will surely follow.
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