Game of E-Commerce Thrones Update – Alibaba’s Q1 results

May 8, 2015

ChannelAdvisor Scot Wingo By Scot Wingo


In my Catalyst 2015 keynote, I used one of my favorite books and TV series, Game of Thrones, as a metaphor for e-commerce (detailed blog post coming soon for those of you that missed Catalyst this year).  I call it the Game of E-Commerce Thrones.

In the Game of E-Commerce Thrones one of the contenders and predicted winners is Alibaba. Alibaba released its earnings for what is its end of 2015 quarter, but our first calendar quarter of 2015 (I know it’s confusing, we’ll just call it the March quarter).  As you read this, keep in mind that in the US e-commerce is growing 15% y/y (comScore) and in China is growing 25% (iResearch), so those are the two benchmark metrics to compare against.

Here are some of the highlights.


Alibaba Update

Mobile, mobile, mobile

Before the March Q, Alibaba was already a leader in mobile with mobile transactions (transactions not traffic!) at 42%. Here are some of the amazing Mobile stats from the March Quarter that blew away the previous high watermarks in mobile usage.

  • Mobile is now 51% of GMV, up from 42% (y/y GMV growth) last quarter
  • Mobile GMV grew 157% y/y to $49b
  • Mobile monthly active users (MAUs) grew 77% y/y to 289m (Alibaba has more mobile users than Amazon has active buyers to put this in perspective.)



GMV Growth

Another interesting topic from the Q was GMV growth overall:

  • China retail GMV grew 40% y/y to $97b
  • TMall grew 62% y/y (an acceleration)
  • Taobao grew 29% y/y (also an acceleration)

Management cited strong sales over the Chinese New Year holiday as one of the core reasons behind the acceleration.


Active buyers

  • The final metric of interest was active buyers that grew 37%y/y to 350m.  Since active buyers grew slower than GMV (37% vs. 40%), that indicates that GMV/buyer ticked up nicely.



This was a very strong showing from Alibaba and provides further evidence they are a contender for the e-commerce iron throne that sellers and retailers globally should keep a very close eye on.


This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, Executive Chairman and Founder, ChannelAdvisor.