Updated 25/9/13: An earlier version of this article said that the regional page is in Chinese, it has been amended. We've also added in more information on the website's English plans.
Chinese company Alibaba has launched a Southeast Asia regional page for its e-commerce marketplace Taobao, and opened an office in Singapore to serve the region.
The Taobao marketplace is a online consumer-to-consumer shopping portal, founded by the Alibaba Group in 2003. It provides a platform for small businesses and individuals to open online retail stores and so far has been concentrated to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, although there are also users all over the world, with more than 280,000 registered users in Singapore. According to Alibaba, by June 2012, Taobao has had more than 800 million products listed and more than 500 million registered users.
Singaporeans who shop on Taobao can choose the International Parcel Forwarding Service (IPFS), which lets them have their goods shipped to a IPFS warehouse, which then delivers the package to the overseas address, eliminating the need for a third-party shipping forwarder. Local users will also be able to use the website's Alipay online payment service; the Alipay Purchase Card is available now at AXS kiosks.
The regional page is in Chinese and some English at the moment, but Alibaba says a dual-language registration page with English will be available next month, with additional English features added to the landing page as well. But there are no plans at this time to make Taobao an entirely English website, as the marketplace displays user-generated content from more than 7 million users, the majority of which communicate in Chinese. The launch of the regional site however, will help users in overseas markets and provide more localized services, such as payments and logistics.