Alibaba now positions Aliexpress as a marketplace targeting individual consumers in overseas markets, instead of wholesalers the site was originally built for. Alibaba began channeling retailers on Taobao, the customer-to-customer marketplace of Alibaba and the most popular of this kind in China, onto Aliexpress in 2012, for it was found that increasingly more customers on it were individuals.

Aliexprss charges 5% of of GMV for transactions settled through Alipay payment solution, and also makes money through a third-party marketing affiliate program. There were 110, 000 sellers and 50 million items on Aliexpress as of March 2014, according to Aliexpress. It is said Aliexpress is pretty popular in some developing markets.

Amazon China apparently has sensed the trend, too. Amazon Global Selling platform was introduced to China in 2012. In 2013 the number of Chinese retailers on Amazon Global Selling increased 196%, and total sales from UK increased 560% in the year, according to Amazon China.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com