《TAIPEI TIMES》 Taobao’s impact still limited, PChome chairman says
PChome Online Inc chairman Jan Hung-tze, left, on Wednesday shakes hands with The Third Wednesday Club chairman Rock Hsu before giving a speech at the trade group’s monthly meeting in Taipei. Photo: CNA
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter
The launch last month of Taobao Taiwan （淘寶台灣） appears to have had a very limited impact on its Taiwanese peer, PChome Online Inc （網路家庭） chairman Jan Hung-tze （詹宏志） said on Wednesday.
Jan made the comments during a speech at the monthly gathering of trade group The Third Wednesday Club （三三會）, which limits its membership to the top 100 firms in individual sectors in Taiwan.
With a focus on local online retailers, Taobao Taiwan, a shopping platform owned by China’s largest e-commerce operator Alibaba Group Holding Ltd （阿里巴巴）, has reportedly attracted 5 million local members since its launch.
Jan, whose company also operates online platforms PChomestore Inc （商店街） and Ruten.com （露天拍賣）, said Taobao is not yet a threat and is expected to introduce various promotions to lure local sellers and buyers, as cross-border e-commerce evolves and thrives.
It takes time to build trust and PChome enjoys the advantage of being a more reliable shopping platform for local sellers and buyers — even though PChome lags far behind Taobao in terms of items for sale, he said.
However, many Taiwanese have long been shopping at Taobao.com （淘寶）, a phenomenon that might reshape retail sales in Taiwan going forward, he added.
In 2014, Taobao published the top 10 cities that loved online shopping at its online platform, with Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung all making the list, spending NT$400,000 per year on average.
Those buyers were not end consumers, but intended to channel the items to night markets, street vendors and retail stores in different parts of Taiwan, Jan said.
The practice might have an unfavorable influence on traditional importers and exporters who are subject to government regulations and taxes, Jan said, adding that cross-border e-commerce is spared of business taxes.
The phenomenon is not fair and requires concerted efforts on the part of authorities in different countries to level the playing field, Jan said.