Alibaba in 2011: Competing in China & Beyond

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR404 For delivery in electronic format: Rs.500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


International Business/ International Management
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 2004-2011
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Alibaba Group
Industry : E-Commerce
Countries : China; Global


This case discusses the success of Corporation (Alibaba) in China under the leadership of Jack Ma (Ma), its founder. It talks about the transformation of Alibaba into one of the most successful e-commerce companies in China and also analyzes its business portfolio. The case explains in detail the rationale behind Ma starting an e-commerce website and his efforts to bring about the growth of the company. Alibaba had emerged as the largest e-commerce company in China. The company tailored its strategies to meet the needs of the customers and made a mark because of its understanding of the Chinese language and culture. However, some experts also raised doubts over the sustainability of Alibaba's business model.

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In 2011, the company was also making efforts to increase its dominance in the Chinese web search market. In August 2011, it acquired, search engine of Chinese online portal, and in October 2011, it launched an online shopping site eTao to combat with Baidu. In December 2011, Alibaba announced that it was testing a social-networking product. This was part of its efforts to expand outside its e-commerce platforms to seek different streams of revenue, according to industry observers. The company was also planning to acquire Yahoo! China's stake of 40 percent in Alibaba. Experts felt that all these initiatives would help Alibaba gain a stronger foothold in China since Internet penetration and e-commerce were rapidly growing in China.


Understand the issues and challenges faced by a Chinese e-commerce company in growing its business.
Study Alibaba's business model and see whether it is sustainable.
Study how Alibaba achieved a balance in catering to global customers while customizing its practices to suit the needs of its Chinese consumers.
Understand how e-commerce companies operate in emerging markets.
Examine the challenges faced by Alibaba in expanding its business globally.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 1
Alibaba in its Initial Years 3
Business Portfolio 7
The Competition 8
Another IPO at Alibaba? 14
Outlook 14
Exhibits 16


Competition, Strategy, Business model, Innovation, Entrepreneur, Market leader, Global expansion, e-commerce, Small and Medium Enterprises, B2B, B2C, C2C, Web search market, Initial Public Offering , Alibaba, Taobao, eBay, Baidu, Google, China

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