In a new filing ahead of its planned IPO the Chinese e-commerce giant reports a 45.2% increase in year-over-year sales.
Don Davis , Editor in Chief
An updated securities filing reveals more about the huge size and rapid growth of China’s leading e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Alibaba filed an updated report this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange in advance of its planned initial public offering of stock, which likely will occur in the next month or so. The company disclosed this spring it plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange and that it will use the stock symbol BABA.
In its latest report, Alibaba reported the value of merchandise sold on its e-commerce marketplaces in the three months ended June 30, 2014, totaled 501 billion RMB ($81.6 billion).
To put that in perspective, eBay Inc. reported $20.49 billion in gross merchandise value in its quarter ended June 30. Amazon.com Inc. does not report GMV, but did report that it sold $15.25 billion worth of goods that it owned, and that outside merchants selling on its web sites accounted for 41% of units sold. That suggests Amazon’s GMV was in the range of $25-30 billion—and that Alibaba’s shopping portals far outpaced sales on both Amazon and eBay sites.
Alibaba also reported rapid growth, with GMV up 45.2% from the year-earlier quarter, and the number of active buyers on its marketplaces increasing 50.8% year over year to 279 million. Some 8.5 million merchants sell on its marketplaces, principally Taobao, an online bazaar open to any Chinese resident. At least 70,000 companies sell on Tmall, a marketplace designed for larger brands that requires sellers to have a business license in China.
Such major Western brands and retailers as Apple Inc., Burberry Group PLC, Nike Inc. and Gap Inc. sell on Tmall, which each quarter represents a bigger share of Alibaba’s sales. Tmall represented 31.7% of Alibaba’s GMV in the quarter ended June 30, the first quarter of Alibaba’s current fiscal year, versus 25.5% in the year-ago quarter.
The new filing also shows that Alibaba is generating more sales from consumers using mobile devices. Mobile sales accounted for 32.8% of GMV in the recent quarter, up from 12.0% a year earlier.
Alibaba also reported a hefty profit of just over $2 billion in the recent quarter, although the company noted that half of that net income came from an upward evaluation of the value of some of its assets. Still, even $1 billion in quarterly profit puts it ahead of eBay, which booked $676 million in net income in its most recent quarter, and Amazon, which reported a net loss of $126 million. Amazon.com is No. 1 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500. EBay is not ranked because, like Alibaba, it does not own any merchandise itself and only provides a platform for other online retailers to sell.
Other data in Alibaba’s recent filing point to its massive scale. For the year ended June 30, 2014, Alibaba says its marketplace generated 14.5 billion orders and that it employed more than 1.1 million delivery personnel who delivered 6.1 billion packages.
While almost all of Alibaba’s revenue currently comes from China, where its marketplaces account for about 80% of online retail sales, the company in June launched a marketplace in the U.S. Called 11Main.com, it features products from smaller merchants, the kind, Alibaba says, U.S. shoppers once bought from on Main Streets in towns around the country.
Once Alibaba completes its IPO, which some say could raise $20 billion, the company may well be looking for other acquisitions outside of China. Alibaba, which is legally registered in the Cayman Islands, has said in previous SEC filings that it does not intend to repatriate the money raised through its IPO to China.