If you’ve been expecting a slowdown in growth — owing to its massive size and the saturation of markets across the globe — Alibaba, in a recent statement by the company that is backed by its Founder-Chairman Jack Ma, may just manage to surprise you.
At an investor conference held at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, the company said that it expects to clock somewhere around 6 trillion yuan ($912 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in fiscal year 2020 — a significant leap over the company’s 3.09 trillion yuan in the current fiscal year.
GMV, or Gross Merchandise Value, refers to the total value of the products sold through a company’s platform and — while not completely accurate — is still a very important measure of how well the company is actually doing. And Alibaba certainly seems to be doing exceedingly well. Consider this, while Alibaba alone clocked 3.09 trillion yuan in fiscal 2016, China’s total retail sales of consumer goods in 2015 was 30.1 trillion yuan.
However, the figures and some of Alibaba’s practices are also being questioned by many. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for example, had launched a probe into its accounting practices last month to determine whether they violated federal laws or not.
Meanwhile, the conference also saw the company fend off accusations that its shopping platforms provided the perfect conduits for counterfeit articles and their manufacturers. Only this May, Alibaba’s membership in the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit global organisation that fights counterfeit products and piracy, was suspended.
Ma promised to react strongly to the issue and said that the company would do anything to curb the problem. He also added that the company had the means to — and was using said means — to tackle the issue, adding that Alibaba has almost 2,000 personnel working on the problem of counterfeit goods.
I promise you guys that counterfeits, fake products, and intellectual property theft — we are more and more confident than ever that we can solve the problem.
Interestingly, he also said that Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than the genuine articles — Woah! — which makes the process of discovering and removing fakes from the country’s largest online service, that much more difficult.
On the aspect of growth, he added that Alibaba expects to have somewhere around 2 billion consumers on its platform by the year 2036, which is five times the 423 million active buyers it currently has. While we are not looking quite that far ahead, one thing is evident, Ma has huge hopes for Alibaba and he looks at issues such as counterfeit goods as only minor snags along Alibaba’s path to growth.
When asked about where does he expect to get such a large number of customers from, Ma said that while South Asia including India, Indonesia, etc were a good option, but rural China with its 700 million potential customers is where Alibaba may actually be laying more of its focus currently.