China's Alibaba is now set to launch its e-commerce operations in India and compete with biggies like Amazon and home-grown Flipkart, reported Business Standard.
This could be the company's first standalone venture in the country, though it holds stake in domestic e-commerce players like Snapdeal and Paytm, said the report.
"We are planning to enter the e-commerce business in India in 2016," the daily quoted J Michael Evans, Alibaba group president as saying after meeting Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad March 18. "We have been exploring very carefully the e-commerce opportunity in this country, which we think is very exciting against the backdrop of Digital India," Evans added.
The Chinese major until now had focused on business-to-business vertical without any indication at a front-end e-commerce platform, the newspaper said. Alibaba could reportedly come as a standalone e-marketplace or partner with another company and could also consider organic growth as an option.
Currently valued at $15 billion, BS cited a Goldman Sachs projection that the e-commerce segment would grow to be a $69 billion industry by 2020.
"We hope Alibaba will come and have a good footprint in India, including the expanding business of e-commerce (for which) they are exploring the possibility," Prasad was quoted by the newspaper. "I have said very clearly that Alibaba is quite free to come and expand its footprint in India."
Currently, Indian law prohibits foreign direct investment in e-commerce sector, but there are no restrictions in online marketplace, reported Business Standard. Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are all online marketplaces, which accommodate multiple sellers on their respective sites.
Reuters reported March 10 that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, led by founder Jack Ma, has been expanding in areas beyond its core e-commerce base, such as online video, as volume growth in its online shopping business slows.
Indian e-commerce industry too is witnessing a valuation markdown in recent times, but it might witness a boost with Alibaba's arrival.
Meanwhile, Amazon, the daily reported, will maintain an open chequebook for the Indian market.