Alibaba and Tencent spent more than USD8 billion last year alone backing often strikingly similar ventures, as the Chinese Internet giants race to create online one-stop-shops to win the digital loyalty of a tenth of the world's population.
Before China became the biggest smartphone market, there was little overlap between the businesses of e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, social networking firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine provider Baidu Inc.
China's largest e-commerce group Alibaba said on Monday transaction size at its overseas shopping division Tmall International added more than 10 times since its initial launch in February this year.
By the end of November this year, as many as 5,400 overseas brands from 25 countries and regions have opened official marketplace at Tmall. Among them, 30 Tmall stores have recorded transaction of more than CNY10 million (USD1.6 million).
Foreign retailers such as Metro AG are also planning to open their official stores on Tmall early next year.
Online retailing has been belted by Australia's economic woes, with November's sales figures recording the slowest monthly and annual growth since the series was first compiled.
And some bricks-and-mortar retailers are also doing it tough, with shares in outdoor equipment retailer Kathmandu plunging 20 percent after poor Christmas sales forced the company to issue a profit warning.
According to National Australia Bank, not only are November's online sales down 0.2 percent on October, they are only 3.9 percent higher year-on-year.
Plagued by poor transport and less purchasing power, rural buyers remained mostly untouched by the wave of online shopping that swept across China in recent years. However, the situation is changing as the burgeoning market in villages has shown great potential and intrigued the country’s major e-commerce businesses.
China's leading e-commerce giants have stepped up expansion of online retail business in rural areas in hopes of tapping the new territory to offset a saturated urban market.
South Korea does not celebrate Thanksgiving, but the hot deals at US online retailers during the holiday season are changing the shopping habits of South Koreans who are aggrieved at marked-up prices of locally made and imported goods at hometown stores.
The volume of goods ordered by Korean shoppers from websites overseas has surged in recent years and sales are forecast to set a record high this year above USD1 billion. It remains small compared with retail sales within South Korea, which are forecast at USD243 billion this year, but is expanding at a faster rate.
Put off by snarled city traffic and a shortage of parking, more Indians are shopping for groceries online, helping e-tailers like Bigbasket.com and Localbanya.com turn in profits while supermarkets are struggling.
The online grocers benefit from low overheads, as they store goods in warehouses outside big cities where commercial rents are sky-high. Some like Bigbasket.com can also charge more for certain items than traditional supermarkets, which means even more profits in a country where all food retailers enjoy margins as high as 20 percent on rice and other staples.
The head of Future Group, one of India's largest and most established retailers, admits he can't keep up with web sites like Snapdeal and Flipkart when it comes to spending money to entice shoppers to buy online.
Private investors have poured USD2.3 billion into India's e-commerce companies so far this year, according to consulting firm Technopak, giving them financial firepower to overwhelm shoppers with bargains and deals that brick-and-mortar retailers like Future Group, which runs a host of chains including Future Retail Ltd and Future Lifestyle Fashions, cannot match.
Singles' Day – so named because the date Nov. 11 has four singles (11/11) – was started as an in-joke between university students, but has morphed into China's equivalent of Cyber Monday. Spurred by Alibaba and its network of online retailers, the day has grown from USD7 million in sales in 2009 to over USD5.7 billion last year for Jack Ma's company.
Alibaba's Single's Day sales are expected to hit a new record this year driven by China's burgeoning internet population and a growing number of retailers participating in the event, say analysts.
Held on 11 November, Single's Day – also known as 11/11 – was initially created by young Chinese to celebrate or lament being single, but it has evolved into the biggest 24-hour online shopping event in the world.
Tokyo-based Rakuten Inc has earmarked THB100 million (USD3.1m) for expansion of its e-commerce business in Thailand over the next three years.
The move comes after its Tarad.com e-marketplace showed rapid growth since 2010 after Rakuten paid USD43.4 million in 2009 to acquire 67 percent of Thailand's Tarad Co, owner of Tarad.com.