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Alibaba targets India as key ecommerce battleground

来源:FT中文网    2018-02-11 07:21

        When Alibaba reported sales of $25bn on its Singles’ Day extravaganza in November, the sum comfortably surpassed estimates of total Indian ecommerce turnover in the whole of last year.         去年11月阿里巴巴(Alibaba)公布双11全球狂欢节当天的销量达到250亿美元,该数字轻松超越了印度去年一整年的电商成交额估算值。
        That has not stopped the Chinese tech giant from making India its first major overseas foray, as it pumps investment into the country at a growing pace. In the past week alone it has secured a $200m stake in leading online grocery group BigBasket, while its payments affiliate Ant Financial agreed to pump the same sum into food-ordering app Zomato.         这并不妨碍这家中国科技巨头把印度作为其进军海外的第一个主要目标,如今它正在加速投资印度。仅过去一周,阿里巴巴就拿到了领先在线食杂零售商BigBasket总值2亿美元的股权,同时其专注于支付领域的关联公司蚂蚁金服(Ant Financial)同意向订餐应用Zomato投资2亿美元。
        These moves came on the heels of a recent investment in logistics group XpressBees, which slotted in the final element of a three-pronged business model that Alibaba honed on its home turf: shopping, payments and delivery.         就在这之前,阿里巴巴最近还投资了物流集团XpressBees。阿里巴巴在中国国内市场发展出了购物、支付和配送三位一体的商业模式,而对XpressBees的投资填补的是其中的最后一环——配送。
        “Just as Amazon is playing its global strategy in India, so will Alibaba,” says Kashyap Deorah, an Indian technology entrepreneur and author.         “就像亚马逊(Amazon)在印度布局其全球战略,阿里巴巴也一样,”印度科技企业家兼作家卡什亚普•德奥拉罕(Kashyap Deorah)表示。
        Alibaba, founded by former English teacher Jack Ma, began its India adventure in February 2015 with an undisclosed investment in financial technology start-up Paytm — later becoming its biggest backer after another $680m injection, and then taking a majority stake in its ecommerce unit.         由曾经当过英语老师的马云(Jack Ma)创办的阿里巴巴于2015年2月开始了印度冒险之旅,先是对金融科技初创公司Paytm进行了一笔具体信息未公开的投资——随后再次注资6.8亿美元成为了Paytm的第一大出资方,之后取得了Paytm旗下电商平台的多数股权。
        China and India are dramatically different ecommerce markets. India brings aggressive competition — including with deep-pocketed Amazon, which barely registers in China — ropey infrastructure and a poorer population.         印度的电商市场与中国截然不同。印度的竞争更激烈——包括与财大气粗、在中国几乎没有存在感的亚马逊竞争——基础设施更破旧,而且人口更贫困。
        Amitava Saha, XpressBees co-founder, admits that logistics are also a tougher challenge in India. Online grocery shopping relies on scale, which enables Alibaba in China to serve customers within hours through a huge network of small local warehouses. Limited uptake in India makes such systems prohibitively expensive, he says.         Xpressbees创始人阿米塔瓦•萨哈(Amitava Saha)承认,在印度,物流也是一项更为严峻的挑战。网购食杂依赖于规模——规模使得阿里巴巴在中国可以通过由地方小仓库组成的庞大网络,在数小时内为客户送货上门。他称,印度有限的客户基数使得类似系统过于昂贵。
        On top of that, Indians have less spending power. At $1,709, India’s nominal income per capita is less than a quarter of China’s $8,123, based on 2016 numbers. They are also less equipped to shop online: fewer than a quarter of Indians had a smartphone last year, according to research by Omidyar Network, and a third of these devices did not have a data connection. In China, half the population has a smartphone.         除此之外,印度人的消费能力较低。根据2016年的数据,印度人均名义收入为1709美元,还不到中国(8123美元)的四分之一。他们用于在网上购物的装备情况也较差:根据奥米戴尔网络(Omidyar Network)的研究显示,去年只有不到四分之一的印度人拥有智能手机,而且其中三分之一的设备无法进行数据连接。在中国,一半的人口都拥有智能手机。
        Ecommerce still accounts for a tiny portion of Indian retail, with sales of $19.6bn last year, 20 per cent up year-on-year, according to Forrester Research. That was a marked deceleration from the pace of 103 per cent two years before, as ecommerce companies struggled to expand their customer base beyond prosperous early adopters in the big cities.         据福里斯特调查公司(Forrester Research)称,电子商务在印度零售业中所占比例仍然非常小——去年电商销售额为196亿美元,同比增长20%。该数字较两年前103%的增速明显放缓,因为电商公司在大城市富裕群体中发展了早期用户之后,就很难再继续扩大用户群。
        Yet deals will continue as companies put their stakes in the ground, says Bhavtosh Vajpayee, analyst at Bernstein Research. While Alibaba builds its ecosystem, tech rival Tencent and Japan’s SoftBank — a big Alibaba shareholder — are putting muscle behind local ecommerce group Flipkart. “Where China started off 15-20 years ago, maybe that’s where India is now,” he says, it’s in the early phases of what will prove a long game.        然而,伯恩斯坦研究公司(Bernstein Research)分析师巴夫托什•瓦杰帕伊(Bhavtosh Vajpayee)表示,随着更多外国公司进军印度市场,未来还会达成更多交易。在阿里巴巴建立其生态系统的同时,它在科技行业的另外两大竞争对手腾讯(Tencent)和日本软银(SoftBank,阿里巴巴的大股东)正在大力支持印度本土电商集团Flipkart。“15到20年前起步时的中国,也许就是现在的印度,”他表示,印度电商目前正处于起步阶段,时间会证明这是一场漫长的游戏。
        Amazon, meanwhile, has committed $5bn to India, having identified it as a key international priority.        与此同时,亚马逊承诺向印度投资50亿美元,确立印度为其优先发展的关键海外市场。
        Alibaba is countering this with a strategy focused on Paytm, founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma who claims to have gathered inspiration from a 2011 speech by Mr Ma. Madhur Deora, chief financial officer, says the shopping-to-payments platform is “very similar” to Alibaba’s domestic model, but “there are important differences in terms of emphasis”.         阿里巴巴把战略重心放在Paytm,凭借它来跟亚马逊抗衡。Paytm的创始人维贾伊•谢卡尔•夏尔马(Vijay Shekhar Sharma)声称自己从马云2011年的演讲中受到启发。首席财务官马杜尔•迪欧拉(Madhur Deora)表示,这家集购物和支付于一体的平台“非常类似”于阿里巴巴在中国国内的模式,但是“在重心方面存在重要区别”。
        One is the sequence in which Alibaba is putting its ecommerce ecosystem together. In China, it began with merchants; payments and logistics followed. Paytm is pursuing expansion in the opposite direction. It is by far India’s most popular digital payment operator, with more than 200m registered users.         其中一个区别是,阿里巴巴在打造其电子商务生态系统时的顺序。在中国,它从卖家平台做起,随后进入支付和物流领域。Paytm正在以相反的顺序进行扩张。迄今为止它是印度最受欢迎的数字支付运营商,拥有超过2亿注册用户。
        With Alibaba’s backing, Paytm has expanded its suite of financial services but remains some way short of leadership in ecommerce. A year after Alibaba took control of the platform, it has roughly two-thirds the monthly turnover of Flipkart or Amazon, according to a person close to Paytm.         有了阿里巴巴的支持,Paytm扩大了其整套金融服务,但在电商领域仍远未成为领头羊。据一位了解Paytm的人士介绍,在阿里巴巴控股该平台一年后,Paytm的月成交量差不多达到了Flipkart或亚马逊的三分之二。
        Last year the business was relaunched as Paytm Mall, pursuing a model closer to Alibaba’s: an eBay-type virtual marketplace for merchants to market their wares, rather than the capital-heavy, inventory-filled warehouses model pursued by Amazon and Flipkart.         去年,该公司推出了Paytm Mall,该平台采取与阿里巴巴更加类似的模式:提供与eBay类似的虚拟市场、让卖家在上面销售货物,而不是采取亚马逊和Flipkart那种重金投入、在库房里堆满库存的模式。
        This approach offers Alibaba the potential to expand far more quickly and at a lower cost than its Indian rivals, says Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder of consultancy Greyhound Knowledge Group. “Their model is more inventory-light so they can really focus their investment on building the network,” he says.         咨询公司Greyhound Knowledge Group的创始人桑吉特•维尔•戈吉亚(Sanchit Vir Gogia)表示,这种发展模式为阿里巴巴提供了一种潜力,使其能够以比印度对手快得多的速度和更低的成本进行扩张。他称,“他们的模型更加轻库存,因此他们可以把投资的重心放在建立网络上。”
        Paytm has particular opportunities in smaller Indian cities where ecommerce rivals have had limited impact but which could be a big driver of future growth, he adds.         他补充称,Paytm在印度中小城市尤其面临巨大机遇,其电商对手在这些城市的影响力有限,但这些地方可能为将来的增长提供强劲驱动力。
        But Alibaba is also gunning for higher-income customers in major cities — as proved by its investment in BigBasket, whose upmarket grocery service is favoured by a growing number of well-off Indian households. The move reflects Alibaba’s desire to create a comprehensive, deeply integrated network of companies that guide customers from one digital service to another.          但阿里巴巴也瞄准了大城市的中高收入客户——它对BigBasket的投资证明了这一点,该平台的高端食杂服务受到越来越多印度富裕家庭的青睐。此举反映了阿里巴巴渴望创建一个深度一体化的综合企业网络,把客户从一个数字服务引向另一个数字服务。
        “We will get access to a tremendous amount of traffic” through the new relationship with Paytm, says Hari Menon, BigBasket’s chief executive.        BigBasket的首席执行官哈里•梅农(Hari Menon)表示,通过与Paytm建立的新关系,“我们将接触到海量流量”。
        Alibaba’s India drive shows no sign of letting up, as it pushes ahead offering other services it pioneered in China. Last month it segued into gaming with a tie-up between Paytm and Alibaba’s Hong Kong subsidiary AGTech, as well as launching a first Indian data centre for its cloud computing service in a bid to poach Indian business clients from Amazon’s rival offering.        阿里巴巴对印度市场的拓展没有丝毫放松的迹象,如今它正在加快推动其在中国的其他先进服务落地印度。上个月,阿里巴巴进入了游戏领域,让Paytm与阿里巴巴的香港子公司亚博科技(AGTech)建立合作;同时还推出了印度首个数据中心用于提供云计算服务,试图从亚马逊旗下竞争服务手中挖走印度企业客户。
        It is also eyeing a move into video streaming in India, putting it up against Amazon, Netflix and Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star India.         阿里巴巴还在考虑进军印度的流视频领域,在这一领域它面临的竞争对手有亚马逊、Netflix以及由鲁珀特•默多克(Rupert Murdoch)控股的星空集团印度公司(Star India)。
        Ultimately, says Satish Meena, an analyst at Forrester Research, Alibaba will “reach a stage where think they have everything in place. And then they can really start putting a lot of money in.”        福里斯特调查公司的分析师萨蒂什•米纳(Satish Meena)表示,最终阿里巴巴将“达到一切准备就绪的阶段。之后他们就真的可以开始投入大量资金了”。
        India: not quite China 2.0        印度:并非完全是中国2.0
        It is a common refrain among multinational tech companies and start-ups alike: India was supposed to be the next China but it is taking ever so much longer to get there.        这是一个我们常常从跨国科技公司和初创公司那里听到的并不新鲜的观点:印度本该成为下一个中国,但这一天好像总也来不了。
        Disposable incomes are lower and taking longer to rise and internet usage is far less prevalent. Moreover, while Beijing has prioritised tech development, allowing companies to flourish in China, that focus is lacking in India, where industrial policy — such as it is — is more targeted at building up manufacturing.        印度的可支配收入更少,收入提高所需时间更长,而且对互联网的使用远不如中国普遍。此外,北京方面一直把科技发展放在首位,让企业得以在中国蓬勃发展,而印度则缺少对该行业的重视,产业政策更注重发展制造业。
        Shoals of start-ups have simply thrown in the towel, with balance sheets squeezed by aggressive discounting and once spendthrift foreign venture capital firms less willing to plug the gaps.        大批初创公司已经干脆认输——它们的资产负债表因大幅打折而不堪重负,而曾经挥金如土的外国风投公司也不再愿意填补其资金缺口。
        Their bigger international peers have taken different approaches, seeking to overcome bandwidth shortages and smaller wallets with tailored offerings. Thus Google, for example, offers YouTube offline in India and in other similar markets.        规模较大的跨国公司同行则采取了不同的方式,试图用特别设计的服务来克服带宽不足以及用户资金有限的问题。例如,谷歌(Google)在印度和其他类似市场提供YouTube离线服务。
        These efforts have not always been successful, as Facebook discovered when it tried to roll out Free Basics, its limited free mobile internet service — less kindly dubbed “digital colonialism” — but India rejected the gesture, saying it would distort open access.        这些努力并非总能取得成功。比如,Facebook曾试图推出有所限制的免费移动互联网服务Free Basics(被不那么客气地称为“数字殖民主义”),但印度拒绝了这一提议,称此举将扭曲开放的互联网访问。
        Similar efforts have been adopted locally. Jio, Reliance Industries’ telecom unit, entered the market 18 months ago with bundled packages, including data, for little more than the cost of voice-only packages: a 28-day package with a daily download allowance of 1GB costs Rs149 ($2.30).        印度自己也进行了类似的努力。18个月前,信实工业(Reliance Industries)旗下的电信部门Jio进入了该市场,推出了包括数据在内的话费套餐(比仅含语音通话的套餐价格高不了一点儿):每日最高下载流量1G的28天套餐价格为149印度卢比(合2.30美元)。
        More recently, WhatsApp-wannabe Hike Messenger launched a platform that allows users to go online for limited functions — like cricket score updates — without any mobile data subscriptions at all.        最近,效仿WhatsApp的Hike Messenger推出了一个平台,允许用户在没有订购任何移动数据流量的情况下上网使用有限的一些功能——比如实时板球比分。
        That in turn has informed the Chinese players’ gambit: to go in with local players. Hence Alibaba’s stakes in Paytm and the rest, and Tencent’s backing of Hike Messenger and Flipkart.        这反过来给了中国竞争者一些启示:与当地企业合作。因此才有了阿里巴巴入股Paytm和其他公司,腾讯投资Hike Messenger和Flipkart。

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