Alibaba’s UCWeb to tap into India’s ecommerce growth story with a recommendation engine: Report

Alibaba’s UCWeb to tap into India’s ecommerce growth story with a recommendation engine: Report
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
6 Sep, 2019

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba-owned UCWeb is preparing to establish an indirect presence in India’s ecommerce market with a recommendation engine that will feature products from popular online marketplaces.

UCWeb plans to partner with leading ecommerce firms such as Flipkart and Paytm to list their products on its various sections including videos, The Economic Times reported.

Users will be able to explore the products and share them on its platform but the engine will take users to the ecommerce firm’s website for actual purchases, the report said, citing Huaiyuan Yang, vice president of UCWeb Global Business. 

The company aims to launch this feature this year. Yang, however, maintained the Alibaba subsidiary has no immediate plans to venture into payment business in India.

Apart from its browser business, UCWeb’s products in India include UC News, 9Apps and UC Ads. 

The UC Browser supports 10 local languages in addition to Hindi. The browser services have been present in India since 2009. In 2017, He Xiaopeng, UCWeb’s co-founder and president at Alibaba Mobile Business Group, announced Rs 200 crore investments in India in content partnerships.

According to the company, it has 130 million monthly active users in India

UCWeb works with mobile phone makers as well as advertisers, content producers, mobile network carriers and content providers.

UCWeb also has a strong presence in Indonesia, Vietnam and Russia apart from China.

Alibaba has long been an indirect player in the Internet business in India and has focused on ecommerce, payments and logistics sectors. 

Its bets on horizontal ecommerce companies Snapdeal and Paytm Mall haven't been very successful but it has had better luck from vertical players such as BigBasket and Zomato.

The Jack Ma-led firm is reportedly reviewing its India investment game plan. Alibaba could make more vertical ecommerce investments and smaller early-stage deals in India, Mint had reported earlier. 

Alibaba is also evaluating segments such as baby-care, online pharmacies and furniture retailing, the report said. 

In March, BAce Capital took part in an $8 million funding round for Bengaluru-based parenting platform Healofy. 

BAce Capital is a $100 million venture capital fund floated recently by Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Alibaba.