Alibaba is aiming to be an e-commerce powerhouse on a scale no one else can match.
That was the message Alibaba’s Founder and executive chairman Jack Ma delivered today at The Economic Club of New York. Several publications covered the speech, including TechCrunch and Re/Code, and Ma also recently wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal echoing similar statements.
During the talk, he addressed the company’s U.S. strategy, saying it wasn’t his intention to compete with eBay and Amazon by selling directly to Americans. Instead, he eyes a much larger opportunity in helping American companies sell their products to a growing Chinese middle class.
We’ve covered that strategy previously in-depth here, but he provided one solid example in the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, he said farmers in the Pacific Northwest sold 180 tons of cherries to China via Alibaba’s platform, setting off a “cherry frenzy in China,” that resulted in sales tripling to 600 tons the following year.
“This success can be replicated for other everyday purchases,” he said.
These kinds of opportunities is why he felt so confident making the bold prediction that his company could surpass Walmart in terms of revenue this year. Last year, Alibaba reported $390 billion in sales, and eventually he sees revenues reaching $1 trillion.
In comparison, last year, Walmart reported $486 billion in revenue. (It’s worth noting that at one point, Alibaba was worth more than Walmart, although that is no longer true.)
Should eBay and Amazon relax knowing that Ma doesn’t intend on competing with them directly in the U.S.? For now, at least, Amazon and Walmart are both comfortable enough with Alibaba to do business with the Chinese conglomerate.
In March, Amazon has launched a storefront on Alibaba’s e-commerce portal, saying that it was savvy move to operate on multiple sales channels. And, in May, Alibaba and Walmart announced a partnership that would allow Walmart customers in China make store purchases using Alipay Wallet, Alibaba’s mobile payment service.
But Amazon, Walmart and eBay all have international ambitions, so it’s too early to say exactly how the lines will end up being drawn.