Up next on stage at Startup Asia is Daphne Lee, director of international business for Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao. Daphne is responsible for managing Taobao Marketplace’s business development and marketing strategies in markets outside of Mainland China, which currently include Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. E-Commerce growth in China has been explosive, to say the least. Taobao's at the head of that, and it'll be interesting to see where they see themselves outside their mainland stronghold. #14:47: This place has the "smell of money", says Daphne to the audience, as some sort of surreal opening remark. This should get interesting. #14:50: They're looking to expand the Taobao ecosystem outside China. 7 million sellers on the platform now, and they're looking at bringing more international users in. The two countries of focus are Hong Kong and Taiwan, though a lot of registered users from Malaysia and Singapore are using the platform too. By end of 2012, 1.4 million users from Hong Kong on Taobao. In Taiwan, 600,000. 1 million from Southeast Asia - 280,000 of those from Singapore. #14:53: Merchants coming onboard too, from outside China. International sellers like Microsoft opening Tmall stores. "Fashionable shoes brand" Charles and Keith have one too. *evil laugh* in response to question on Rakuten Vs Tmall. #14:55: Localization and payment plans: "We're looking at providing local services." Plans are underway to involve local service providers for logistics and payments. They're working with international shipping providers for better end-to-end tracking information for purchases. Alipay is a part of this expansion (accepting international credit cards etc., banks in other countries, local payment providers). Several partners-in-progress. "I can only reveal one..." *drumroll* Singapore's DBS! Sales pitch time now. DBS cardholders get rewards for all purchases above 50 RMB! /end sales pitch. Moving on swiftly. #15:00: No luck on sales figures for international merchants within Taobao, or international sales figures of any kind. "That's confidential," she laughs. Friendliest "no comment" from a corporation this blogger has heard in a while. #15:05: Does Taobao need to be more social? "We have forum!" says Daphne. "But in Chinese...I can translate for you." Little does she know of ace TiA editor Steven Millward's l33t 中文 skills. Tmall purchases coming from outside China too...but no plans for an English website yet. Not in 2013, atleast. It's a big challenge, getting all merchant's contents to make the transition too. "Anything is possible," she says enigmatically. "But we need to focus on infrastructure and service first." There is, however, a dedicated service line with English and Cantonese speakers for foreign users. Mum's the word on the possible Alibaba IPO. It was worth a shot. #15:08: The Alibaba company, as a whole, is now taking baby steps internationally, Daphne says. But that pace will accelerate. Plug for Ali Express, kind of like an English Tmall. #15:18: Over 6,000 people have used the Taobao API to develop services on the platform. Supplementary ecosystem activities gaining steam, with people targeting Taobao merchants for customer service training, inventory management. Customer focused apps too, such as comparative shopping. Open to working with startups to develop more services of this kind. Even considering strategic investments in particularly sharp ideas. What does the future hold? More business operations. More infrastructure base. More marketing. More international merchants. More users. More "happy" users. More Taobao partners and developers. In summary, Taobao strategy for 2013: MOAR.
This is a part of our coverage of Startup Asia Singapore 2013, our event running on April 4 and 5. For all our newest Startup Arena pitches, see here. You can follow along on Twitter at @techinasia, and on our Facebook page.
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