Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, intends to expand its global reach by opening up its fast-growing AliExpress marketplace to retailers from more countries around the world.

Apart from Chinese vendors, AliExpress has allowed small-to-medium businesses in four countries – Russia, Turkey, Italy and Spain – to register for the service, enabling them to sell their products to customers in more than 150 countries covered by the platform.

These include Turkish online clothing company Trendyol, which opened a store on AliExpress earlier this year, and, a Russian internet firm with an estimated 97 million active users.

Now, according to Alibaba executives who spoke to the Financial Times, AliExpress plans to roll out the service in more countries, having built up experience in the initial four.

“This year is the first year for our ‘local to global’ strategy,” said Trudy Dai, president of Alibaba’s wholesale marketplaces division. “This strategy is intimately connected to Alibaba’s broader globalisation strategy.”

She added that AliExpress, which contributed to revenue growth of 94% at Alibaba’s international e-commerce businesses in 2018, will spearhead Alibaba’s globalisation strategy.

And this will come with support from Lazada, the Singapore-based Alibaba subsidiary that App Annie, a data marketing firm, last week named as the top shopping app in Southeast Asia.

According to the Financial Times, Alibaba’s overhaul of AliExpress is a bid to offer a “full international service able to challenge Amazon” and is a development that at least one analyst attributes to slowing growth in its home market.

“We are seeing Alibaba trying to expand globally because they are trying to offset declining growth in China itself,” said Billy Leung, a director at brokerage Haitong.

“They are at the point when they need a lot of growth to come from AliExpress and Lazada and other international businesses.” He added that Alibaba’s priority must be to lay the foundations for growth in expanding markets.

Sourced from Financial Times, Alizila; additional content by WARC staff