31 Alibaba Facts in 2023 and an Enticing Glimpse to the Future

Updated · Mar 06, 2023

Alibaba Group is one of the modern corporate behemoths. The Chinese Amazon has an intriguing story and posts some mesmerizing figures. 

We gathered the most telling Alibaba facts to shed a light on the Eastern giant, which has reshaped entire segments of the Chinese economy and has changed the lives of millions for the better.

Intriguing Alibaba Stats and Facts 2022 (Editor’s Choice)

  • Alibaba’s active Chinese customers were 979 million in 2021.
  • 66% of Alibaba's total revenue for 2021 was generated from commerce retail in China.
  • Alibaba processed 583,000 orders per second during the peak of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 2020.
  • At least 8.5 million sellers use Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms.
  • Each year Alibaba receives 12.7 billion orders. 
  • More than half of China’s domestic parcels come from Alibaba properties.
  • Alipay can be accessed in 110 countries.

Alibaba Background Check

The start of a new company may include a brilliant idea, a vision for the future, or an opportunity to improve what already exists.

Alibaba is no different.

In this section, you’ll learn more about it.

The story starts with ordinary people and their innovative vision. 

1. 1999 was the founding year of Alibaba Group.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

It all started in the apartment of a former English teacher called Jack Ma. He is considered Alibaba’s founder even though he didn’t do it alone.

So what happened then in the city of Hangzhou, China? 

Jack and the other 17 co-founders shared the common belief in connecting small and medium-sized Chinese enterprises with global business buyers. The result was the B2B website Alibaba.com—an international wholesale marketplace in English.

2. The Arabic tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” stands behind the company’s name.

(Source: USA Today)

Jack Ma came up with the name in a San Francisco cafe. When he asked the waitress what she knew about Ali Baba, she replied with the symbolic phrase “Open Sesame.” Other people on the streets all knew something about it, so Ma decided that the name was suitable.

So that’s another sublime moment in Alibaba history—the company, not the man from the story. And as the magic words open the door to endless treasures, the website opens the global door of opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in China.

Pretty smart!

3. Initially, Alibaba raised $80,000 to get the business going.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Eighty investors decided to support the company financially. Those $80,000 went into building and sustaining an online marketplace platform where Chinese businesses can list and sell their products in bulk.

4. Alibaba’s China wholesale site is called 1688.com. 

(Source: Alibaba Group)

This website serves as a marketplace for wholesale trade between domestic Chinese businesses (B2B). That’s another successful endeavor on behalf of Alibaba. 

5. In 2001, Alibaba.com reached one million users.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

One million may not look that much nowadays, but more than 20 years ago, the global marketplaces were just starting to gain popularity. A million users in two years was a big deal back then.

6. Alibaba Group is on a mission to last 102 years.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

If this doesn’t rank among the most fascinating Alibaba facts, we don’t know what will.

It’s good to have a clear vision for the future and know where you want to go. Considering the holding’s start was in 1999, it should be still here in 2101.

7. Alibaba always puts customers first.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

As part of Alibaba’s values, customers are the top priority. Then come employees and only after that—shareholders. This is the order of importance that will bring long-term benefits, the company believes.

Alibaba Companies: The Most Renowned Ones

Alibaba Group Holding has a ton of companies under its umbrella.

The portfolio of businesses includes ventures in ecommerce, logistics, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, on-demand delivery, and even physical grocery stores.

Let’s take the story a bit further.

8. Alibaba’s ecosystem includes 13 major companies.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

Now, don’t think that’s all of them. These are only the ones considered major. 

The main Alibaba Group subsidiaries are:

  • AliExpress
  • Alibaba
  • Alimama
  • DingTalk
  • Ele.me
  • Youku
  • Alibaba Cloud
  • 1688.com
  • Lazada
  • Taobao
  • Freshippo
  • Cainiao
  • Tmall

9. Taobao is a leading retail platform for Chinese customers.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

Taobao.com was first launched in 2003. It’s a C2C online shopping platform that operates in China. Alibaba’s B2C equivalent is Tmall.com.

On Taobao, you can buy everything, even groceries. Another interesting fact about Alibaba is its physical store business for food products. We’ll talk about it in greater detail in a bit.

10. AliExpress was launched in 2010.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

This is one of the most favored global retail marketplaces. It’s especially popular among French, Brazilian, Russian, American, and Spanish customers. The most traffic to Aliexpress.com comes from Brazil13.04%. The US follows with 8.20% while Spain is third with 7.49%.

AliExpress is Alibaba’s brand for B2C international ecommerce.

11. Youku is Alibaba’s entertainment and media business.

(Source: Investopedia)

Youku’s complete acquisition took place in 2016 when Alibaba purchased a controlling stake for $4.4 billion. Two years prior, the ecommerce giant had already acquired shares for $1.1 billion. 

12. Alibaba Group acquired Lazada in 2016. 

(Source: Investopedia)

Lazada is an ecommerce marketplace in Southeast Asia. Alibaba purchased a 54% stake for just over $1 billion. Thus, Lazada became one of the latest of Alibaba’s subsidiaries.

13. Freshippo is Alibaba’s grocery chain in China.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

It looks like 2016 was a pretty eventful year for the Chinese giant. The first Freshippo self-operated physical store also opened that year. 

This is not just any kind of store, though—it combines groceries, a restaurant, and a delivery app. It uses facial recognition and high-tech robotics to process payments.

Alibaba Demographics: Who and How Many

What about Alibaba’s employees and customers?

Although the company’s vision is to focus on customers first, employee growth and happiness are also greatly encouraged.

Alibaba Group organizes all kinds of fun activities to keep the staff’s spirit up as well. After all, it’s a modern company and has to follow all employee engagement trends.

14. Alibaba Group creates almost 70 million direct and indirect jobs in China. 

(Source: Alibaba Group)

This Alibaba stаtistic doesn’t include only the people directly hired by the holding-owned companies, though. 

Alibaba’s ecosystem creates indirect employment opportunities because of its numerous platforms where merchants can sell their products. Other related businesses often take over from there, such as logistics, operations outsourcing, online marketing and consulting, mobile ecommerce, training in digital professions, etc.

15. Alibaba's number of employees working full-time is 259,316.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

This number was calculated at the end of December 2021 and referred to all employees in Alibaba Group Holding. 

At the end of March 2021, they were 251,462. So 7,854 people were employed in just nine months. What’s more impressive is the growth from March 2020. Then there were 117,600 employees, which makes an annual increase of 113.83%, so more than double.

16. At the end of 2021, Alibaba had 882M buyers in China. 

(Source: Statista)

For comparison, they were 779 million a year earlier. That’s an increase of 103 million. 

Bear in mind that these numbers are only for Chinese online shopping properties such as Tmall.com, Taobao.com, and Alibaba.com. The international buyers are not included here.

17. On Singles’ Day Festival 2021, Chinese customers spent $84.54 billion buying from Alibaba’s online shopping platforms.

(Source: Statista)

Each year, the festival starts on November 11 (11.11) and lasts two weeks. Shoppers enjoy reduced prices during that period. 

But let’s add something more spicy to the Alibaba stats. The absolute record for this festival was in 2020 when sales almost doubled compared to the previous year—the increase was 92,97% (from 38.4 million to 74.1 million).

The 11.11 event is so popular in China that the gross merchandise volume (GMV) usually surpasses that of Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the US. 

18. In 2021, Alibaba’s ecosystem had 1.28 billion active customers worldwide.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

The above number includes all customers—domestic and international—from all Alibaba’s businesses. Most of them were Chinese—979 million, while 301 million were overseas. 

A Closer Look at Alibaba Revenue 2022

Can you guess how much revenue Alibaba makes every year?

Is it in millions, billions, or even trillions

Well, you don’t have to since we collected all the relevant numbers and more below.

19. In 2014, Alibaba Group went public on the NYSE.

(Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

Alibaba can be found on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under “BABA.” Its initial public offering price was $68 per American depositary share (ADS). The company raised almost $21.8 billion then.

20. In the fiscal year 2021, Alibaba's revenue was $109.48 billion.

(Source: Investis)

$72.29 billion came from retail commerce business within China. That equals 66% of all revenue.

Chinese wholesome commerce earned 2% of the annual revenue or $2.19 billion; international wholesale—2% ($2.2 billion); overseas retail—5% ($5.26 billion). 

Keep in mind that the fiscal year 2021 ended on March 31.

21. The annual GMV on Alibaba's retail marketplaces in China was roughly $1.2 trillion. 

(Source: Statista)

Compared to the other Alibaba statistics, you may wonder about the high number. Since GMV indicates the total value of sold merchandise for one year, it can be in trillions. In Chinese yuans that sum is as high as 7.49 trillion.

Data is for the fiscal year 2021.

A Sneak Peek of Alibaba Market Share

It looks like Alibaba is doing pretty well in China so far.

The following stats will either confirm or disprove that. 

Want to know which one it is? Keep reading then.

But let’s see what’s going on with Chinese retail numbers first:

22. It’s expected online retail sales in China to top $3.6 trillion in 2025.

(Source: Statista)

During the pandemic, online shopping in China became extremely popular. In 2021 retail sales grew by 15% yearly and equaled $2.49 trillion. Four years later, that growth is predicted to be about 44.6%.

23. Alibaba's market share in China for retail ecommerce is 47.1%.

(Source: eMarketer)

Now, 47.1% might look like a good number, but it’s the first time Alibaba ranks under 50%. Its top rivals are way behind though: JD.com has 16.9%; Pinduoduo (PDD) has 13.2%. Our data is based on predictions for 2021.

24. Antimonopoly watchdogs are chasing after Alibaba since 2020.

(Source: eMarketer)

Chinese financial regulatory organs are also after Alibaba. Well, it happens to large companies that become industry giants. Then the government has tо interfere to make sure everything is fair and no monopoly is formed. That’s the norm these days.

25. Alibaba sales in 2022 are predicted to be almost 1.33 trillion in China.

(Source: eMarketer)

This number shows expected retail ecommerce sales in China. As usual, JD.com is far behind with 510.55 billion; Pinduoduo is third with 422.81 billion.

Time for a fun fact:

26. Jack Ma stepped down as Alibaba Group’s CEO in 2019.

(Source: Forbes)

Today, Jack Ma’s net worth is $23.1 billion, which ranks him #67 in Forbes Billionaires (2022). He’s also the fifth richest man in China for 2021, according to Forbes.

The Alibaba vs. Amazon Battle

Alibaba is considered the “Amazon of China” mainly because it’s the largest Chinese ecommerce business like Amazon is for the US.

However, in terms of revenue, Alibaba is way behind. Although Americans shop from Alibaba’s international platforms, there is no real battle between them. 

27. In 2022, Amazon is expected to more than triple the revenue of Alibaba.

(Source: Fool)

Also, Amazon’s market cap is $1.7 trillion, while Alibaba’s is only $333 billion

As we already know, Alibaba currently has issues with Chinese regulators. To some extent, its growth is hindered because of that. 

28. Amazon’s revenue for 2021 was $469.82 billion. 

(Source: Macrotrends)

If we compare Alibaba vs. Amazon revenue, the latter wins again. An earlier stat showed that Alibaba’s annual revenue was $109.48 billion in 2021.

29. Amazon’s US market share was 56.7% in 2021.

(Source: PYMNTS)

Amazon’s market share in the US has been steadily growing for the past 20 years. Alibaba was losing positions in China, as its market share was projected to drop under 50% for the first time in 2021. 

As an industry giant, Alibaba is completely aware it should follow user demands and trends to stay relevant and on top.

Rapidly changing technologies and how customers use them push the company to constant innovation/

No time for rest when you’re among the big guns.

30. By 2036, Alibaba intends to serve 2 billion global customers. 

(Source: Alibaba Group)

Well, you wanted Alibaba facts for 2022, but you got 14 years in the future!

We’re now all in the next decade when 25% of the world’s population uses Alibaba services (assuming that in 2036 we’ll be over 8 billion). What a goal! You should dream big, they say…

31. Alibaba created the “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) trend in Asia.

(Source: Echangeur)

Alipay is Alibaba’s payment app. It has offered consumption micro-credits since 2015. 

Recently, Lazada also implemented the BNPL system in Southeast Asia. “Buy Now Pay Later” means that you can pay for your order in monthly installments for 12 or 6 months. Since its launch, 38% of Singaporeans have used this option. The good news is that there are no interest rates.

Wrap Up

We’ve opened the magic door to immense knowledge with all these Alibaba facts.

You said “Open Sesame” in the beginning, and that’s what we’ve done. What’s done can’t be undone.

The tale of Alibaba Group is far from over. That’s not the last chapter since the company intends to be here for 102 years after it started.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.