Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alibaba and Global Sources: competing less and less

Looking through the recent earnings releases of both Global Sources and, it is clear that these two companies are continuing to compete less and less for the same suppliers.

Global Sources and have been going in separate strategic directions for some time, but the key metrics in 2010 confirm that fact.

In 2010, Global Sources generated US$93.9 million in online revenues - that is about 50% of total revenues (US$194 million). The other 50% was generated by its exhibitions business (US$69.5 million), print (US$25.8 million) and miscellaneous (US$4.9 million).

Of’s online revenues were approximately US$780 million. Total revenues were US$846 million. The remaining US$65 million were not from operations.

If we make some rough, back of the envelope calculations: Global Sources posted US$94 million in online revenues. If we estimate that the average supplier paid RMB 40,000 (US$6,000) in 2010 to post its products online. That results in approximately 15,700 paid suppliers on the Global platform. had nearly 810,000 paid suppliers in 2010 – but that figure includes suppliers on both the International and the China platform. If we just look at the International platform,, there were almost 132,000 paid suppliers.

Even if there were perfect overlap, which there is not, that would mean that just 12% of’s suppliers were also on Global Sources. reports that there were 132,000 paid suppliers on its International website which generated revenues of US$494 million. That results in an average of US$3,740 (RMB 24,500) per supplier.

So has 132,000 suppliers paying RMB 24,500. Global has 16,000 paying RMB 40,000. In all likelihood, these two companies are not going after the same suppliers.

Alibaba is trying to build an SME ecosystem through its subsidiaries,,, AliExpress and AliLoan. Global Sources is targeting larger, more established exporters who are interested in its multi-media platform (exhibitions, online, print, private buyer events).

With each passing quarter, it is clear that these two companies are not exactly knocking on the same doors across China. And arguably, doesn't knock on doors at all, but that is another story...

1 comment:

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