Alibaba is coming to the US.

Alibaba Is Coming To The US – Here Are 8 Things You Should Know About The Online Retail Giant

Alibaba, the giant Chinese online retailer, facilitates billions of transactions each year, but has some big counterfeiting problems.

Here’s what you should know about Alibaba:

1. It’s the world’s largest e-commerce company – larger than Amazon and eBay combined

In 2013, the company handled $248 billion in transactions.  In 2015, that number climbed to $460 billion. For comparison, Amazon handled $100 billion and eBay handled $76 billion.

2. The company doesn’t sell merchandise, but connects buyers with sellers (it earns revenue from commissions and advertising)

In 2014 had  231 million active users. By 2016 that number had grown to over 400 million.

3. It operates three platforms: Alibaba, T-Mall and Tao Bao

The core service, Alibaba, is a business-to-business supplier platform. T-mall is an Amazon-like platform where more than 70,000 retail brands can sell to consumers, while Tao Bao is an eBay/Etsy-style website for consumer-to-consumer sales.

4. The company’s platform alone has an incredibly wide range of products

You can buy anything from pink plastic garden flamingos to Boeing 737s and artisanal soap from Syria.

5. It’s a highly mobile-focused company  
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In 2016 the company boasted 393 million active monthly users. Payment is handled through Alipay, a third-party payment processing service that was restructured in 2011 to be a private company held by CEO Jack Ma.

6. 11Main, Alibaba’s US site, is opening a beta test for both consumers and brands

The site, which is currently accepting signup requests, will be focused on “one-of-a-kind items, not available at mass merchants and other large e-commerce sites,” according to Reuters.

7. Buyers should beware, however – Alibaba sites have seen scams and frauds before

Not unlike eBay, the company has had its share of scams and frauds – including one scandal where ostensibly “verified” sellers defrauded customers.

As though to emphasize the scope of the problem, the company has publicly recognized that it needs to fight fraud in order to survive.

The website’s Help Center offers guides on how to avoid being scammed.

8. The company’s IPO was the largest ever

The IPO for Alibaba, which launched as “BABA” on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, raised $25 billion, more than any other IPO in history.

Updated. Image courtesy of Alibaba.

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Ole Skaar