Alibaba growth slows despite 3 trillion yuan in first fiscal year

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By Larry Banks

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Monday that its total transaction volume had beaten 3 trillion yuan ($463 billion) in the year to the end of March, a milestone that comes despite a slowdown in growth.

With just weeks left in the fiscal year, the figure translates to growth of 23 percent from the 2.44 trillion yuan in gross merchandise volume (GMV) that Alibaba reported for the previous year, a decrease from the 46 percent GMV growth reported in the year to March 31st, 2015.

Alibaba has attempted to bring more foreign sellers onto its e-commerce systems and penetrate the huge and untapped rural market of China, as growth in the country has reached a 25 year low.

In a post on the firm’s blog, Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said the company’s growing GMV reflected China’s move away from investment and export-led growth towards consumption and services, and that Alibaba is “at the heart of this new economy”.

For the markets, GMV is a key measure of Alibaba’s growth. However Tsai suggested that GMV, which has more than tripled in the last few years, was becoming less important as a measure of success.

“Growth is meaningless unless it is sustainable. Thus, we have turned our focus to quality growth and broadening domestic consumption”, he wrote, adding “While GMV is a proxy for scale, our focus on quality and sustainable growth means how we measure success is no longer dependent on a simplistic view of GMV growth”.

In January this year, Alibaba’s GMV rose 23 percent in Q3 from the same quarter year-on-year to 964 billion yuan, the slowest quarterly growth in more than three years.

The firm’s growth has been criticized in recent times, with some saying the company doesn’t do enough to end the sale of counterfeit products, as well as the problem of faking orders.

SOURCE: Reuters.

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