Alibaba brings a Chinese twist to Lazada’s Southeast Asia expansion

2 min read
A couple pass under a billboard for Alibaba-owned Southeast Asian e-commerce company Lazada in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (Image credit: TechNode/Cassidy McDonald)

Lazada, the Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, today announced that it is rolling out a package of products and services that would help brands and sellers tap the e-commerce boom in the region.

The offerings, dubbed super-solutions, are aimed at bringing more efficiency and convenience for retailers on the platform. These new features target to transform the sellers into what the company calls “Super eBusinesses” by providing them tailored solutions for branding, marketing, and sales.

Alibaba has been making decisive expansions to the Southeast Asia e-commerce space, which is expected to top around $178 billion by 2025. As a major step to the goal, the Chinese e-commerce platform pumped a total of $4 billion into Lazada since 2016, and is now the controlling shareholder of the Singapore-headquarter retail giant.

To be sure, there are plenty of challenges for Alibaba to help Lazada capitalize on the e-commerce boom. Consumer behavior patterns are different in Southeast Asia compared to China. Even though Alibaba’s experience could provide insights, much localization is also required. Logistics also pose a challenge given that the region is much more fragmented market in terms of geographic distribution. Lazada says it will continue to invest to build the region’s most extensive warehousing, fulfillment, and delivery network.

In addition, Lazada is not the only company in this space and faces stiff competition from Shopee, Amazon, and other industry rivals.

Lazada’s newly appointed CEO Pierre Poignant, who took the helm of the firm in March after Lucy Peng’s nine-month stint, is working on to align the business and administrative models between Lazada and the parent company.

A closer tie-up between the two companies is reflected in their strategic priorities. The current retailer-targeted feature launch comes in line with Alibaba’s broader initiative to boost the digital transformation of companies of all sizes and across different industries. In January, the Chinese e-commerce giant rolled out Alibaba Business Operating System to offer its amalgamations of technology services.

Lazada will launch a series of “super campaigns” to brands and sellers on LazMall, Lazada’s Tmall-like authorized brand marketplace, to boost their brand image and better engage with customers. Likewise, Alibaba’s e-commerce sites like Taobao and Tmall have been known for pushing hundreds of marketing campaigns all-year-round under different themes from home decoration to Valentine’s Day.

For sales management, a new and improved Marketing Solutions Package and Business Advisor Dashboard were launched to deliver traffic to storefronts, and  provide brands and sellers with information needed for decision making.

Following China’s livestreaming boom, Lazada’s new tech tools integrated in-app live streaming feature. Newsfeed and in-app consumer games functions were also to push higher consumer engagement. Content and entertainment-driven e-commerce is in full swing in China. Alibaba itself has acquired stakes in Chinese video streaming site Bilibili along the same trend.

Over the past year, Lazada has been able to launch industry-leading tech innovations like search-image function, consumer engagement games and in-app live streaming to become the region’s only “shoppertainment” platform on which people can watch, shop and play, Poignant, the company’s CEO said at a Lazada event earlier this month in Shenzhen.

With additional reporting from Bailey Hu.