Costco enters China through Alibaba’s e-commerce site

Costco is the latest U.S. retailer to join Alibaba’s online marketplace, a sign of the power the Chinese Internet juggernaut wields in e-commerce and the growing threat is poses to online shopping sites such as eBay.

Alibaba announced Tuesday that Costco, the membership-only warehouse retailer that sells in bulk, has opened an online store on Alibaba’s, the largest online shopping site in China where various brands and retailers can sell goods internationally. Joining Tmall gives Washington-based Costco — the second-largest retailer in the U.S. — its first direct line to Chinese consumers, a growing and increasingly wealthy and Internet-savvy population.

About 80 percent of all online transactions in China are done through Alibaba, a collection of marketplaces for consumers and businesses with assorted Internet services. Currently nearly 400 million Chinese shop online, and that number could rise to 600 million in a few years.

“Costco sees tremendous growth opportunities in China, especially in light of Chinese consumers‘ increasing appetite for imported products,” said Jim Murphy, Costco executive vice president. He added that Costco would introduce new products specifically for Chinese consumers.

Alibaba said thousands of international and Chinese brands and retail merchants have established shopping sites on Unlike Amazon, Alibaba does not sell merchandise directly, but rather it charges sellers to advertise on the business-to-consumer platform.

Alibaba began publicly trading on the New York Stock Exchange last month in the biggest IPO in history, raising $25 billion and shattering records of previous tech IPOs.


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