March 19, 2013, 11:02 AM

Alibaba Group’s mobile commerce sales jump 600% in 2012

Its Taobao Marketplace welcomed 300 million unique mobile visitors last year, it reports.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

The Chinese e-retaling giant's Taobao Marketplace m-commerce site.

As more Chinese purchase smartphones and tablets, more online shopping is being conducted in the mobile channel. Witness the 2012 results for Alibaba Group, China’s dominant e-commerce company. Mobile commerce sales in Alibaba’s two big consumer-oriented marketplaces, Taobao and  its Tmall, skyrocketed 600% in 2012 over 2011. Alibaba is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Asia 500 with estimated 2012 sales of $170 billion. Alibaba is the eBay of China, its sales accounting for at least 80% of the total e-commerce market in China, according to the Internet Retailer Asia 500.

The total number of unique visitors to Taobao Marketplace in 2012 who used mobile shopping apps or the m-commerce site hit 300 million, according to a new report from Taobao. 57 million visitors, or 19%, made a purchase, the report says. Taobao did not release exact mobile sales figures, but does say that 6.87% of all Taobao transactions in 2012 were made on a smartphone, up from 1.77% in 2011.

“The speed of mobile adoption has been much faster than we thought it would be,” says Alex Qiu, a vice president and general manager of the mobile business unit at Alibaba Group, quoted in a post on the merchant’s official Alizila blog. “Mobile is changing how we operate our platform and how online merchants operate their businesses. These are revolutionary changes, similar to the change from offline to online more than 10 years ago. Three years from now, the amount of time people spend on mobile devices will have increased significantly, as will the amount of money you spend online.”

The Taobao 2012 Mobile Shopping Annual Report also reveals that:

● 3.55 million Taobao Marketplace vendors sold merchandise through mobile devices, up 87% from 1.90 million in 2011.

● 9.28 million mobile shoppers searched for products on Taobao daily; shoppers searched on average 13-14 times a day.

● 220,000 items were sold every hour through smartphones and tablets on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com.

Alibaba is expected to conduct an initial public offering of stock this year or next. The company is valued at roughly $40 billion, based on what it paid last year to buy back roughly half of Yahoo Inc.’s 40% stake in Alibaba.

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