September 2021 | latest update: 08.09.2023 | by Lili & Felix
Welcome to the second stop on our journey through the hidden gems of e-Commerce from all around the world. In this installment, we’re looking at online marketplaces from the largest continent on the globe: Asia.
Active in several countries of the Middle-East and North Africa (UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) Souq has 15.9 million monthly visits and an online revenue of $77.2 million. Owned by Amazon, Souq offers a large selection of products, like electronics, health and beauty, toys, groceries, cars, and office supplies.
As many other major marketplaces, Souq works with third party sellers, thus increasing the risk of counterfeits and grey market products penetrating the platform.
Similarly to Souq, noon is available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Larger than its competitor, noon offers a similarly wide array of products, and has 15 million monthly visitors as well as a global net sales figure of $290.7 million.
Screenshot of the homepage of noon.com
Just like Souq and all the other major marketplaces, noon works with third party sellers. Although information about these sellers is hard to find on the platform, we have found through our test purchase service that they cooperate well and offer a fast service. Nevertheless, the possibility of fake and grey market products on the platform is real.
According to the OECD, the majority of counterfeited goods originate in China. However, the new e-Commerce regulations may help make the life of counterfeiters a bit harder, at least for a while.
The country possesses the fastest growing e-Commerce market on the planet: its value is supposed to reach $1,556.2 billion by 2024. In comparison, the same figure for the US is projected to rise to a significantly lower level, $523.7 billion.
Contributing to that growth is one of the most popular online marketplaces in China, Taobao. Owned by the Alibaba Group, Taobao has an annual sales value of 5.7 trillion RMB (approx. $853 billion) and 303.43 million visits per month. The marketplace offers a large array of products ranging from electronics to fashion, footwear, and furniture to mostly Chinese consumers.
Taobao has an interesting business model: it doesn’t charge its vendors, nor its consumers any transaction fees. Instead, it charges for platform-based advertising, which heightens the competition between sellers to get in front of potential customers. While this certainly has benefits, it may also be a cause of cheap counterfeits and grey market products to flood the platform with their very low prices. No wonder that despite its best efforts, ever since 2016 the platform has been featured on the USTR’s annual list of notorious markets.
From an online brand protection point of view, Taobao is not the easiest platform to work with. Information about the sellers is not easily available and the filter functions don’t always work well, which means that it’s difficult to separate the big sellers from small ones. Nevertheless, when we find counterfeits of our clients’ products here, we do everything in our power to achieve a takedown.
A special B2B marketplace, made-in-china specializes in connecting Chinese suppliers and manufacturers with Western distributors. In fact, it’s one of the biggest global B2B platforms aggregating Chinese suppliers.
Interested businesses can’t buy directly off the platform, but have to put the products in question into an “inquiry basket” and enter into negotiations with the supplier. Brands have to be aware that some suppliers on the platform may deal with counterfeits and make sure not to acquire fake products or product parts.
For globaleyez, it’s interesting to follow the route counterfeits take to get into Europe. Luckily, finding information about sellers is easy and the platform cooperates well with our takedown requests, which means that we’re often able to stop fakes before they even get started on their route to other countries. Like the following gem of a perfume bottle, “somewhat” resembling (= completely copying) a Gucci bottle.
Screenshot of a copied Gucci perfume bottle, renamed “Glam Forest” by the fake seller
E-Commerce is booming in India. The market’s size, which was “only” worth $14 billion in 2014 is currently valued at $74.8 billion and is projected to grow to $350 billion by 2030. The volume of online orders increased by 36% in the last quarter of 2020 alone, mostly driven by beauty, wellness, and personal care products. No wonder that the country’s online marketplaces are doing so well.
Offering a wide range of products such as electronics, fashion, cosmetics, and even plane tickets, Flipkart is a massively popular online marketplace in India with 161.1 million monthly visits and an annual revenue of 346.1 billion INR (ca. $4.6 billion).
Owned by Walmart, Flipkart takes the position of the middle man between sellers and buyers. This may allow counterfeiters and grey marketers to get access to consumers, which places a large responsibility on the marketplace to vet its sellers.
Although Flipkart has a copyright protection policy and takes action against fake sellers, counterfeits may still appear on the platform. And while sellers are not forthcoming with information about themselves, our takedowns on this marketplace have always been quick and efficient.
A lot smaller than Flipkart, Shopclues has 2.1 million monthly visits and an annual revenue of 971 million INR ($13 million.) In fact, this is down by 53% from the previous year, marking 2020 as a loss for the company. This is somewhat surprising, as many online marketplaces have flourished during the coronavirus pandemic, but Shopclues is not alone in this. E-Commerce in India suffered losses along with other industries.
Screenshot of the homepage of shopclues.com
Shopclues offers a large selection of products, including fashion, home appliances, food and beverages, as well as cell phones. Like Flipkart, Shopclues provides a platform for third party sellers, mainly small businesses to find customers. Again, this model allows for counterfeiters and grey marketers to enter the platform and get their products in front of customers. Seller information is not quite extensive; however, our takedowns on Shopclues have always proved to be fast and seamless.
With 12.7 million monthly users and an annual revenue of 5.1 billion INR ($64 million), Snapdeal is an important player in India’s e-Commerce sector. The marketplace offers a large selection of products, including electronics, fashion, home appliance and decor, beauty, footwear, and books.
As Snapdeal is working with third party sellers, most of whom don’t disclose a lot of information about themselves, the dangers of counterfeits mixing with original products is high on this marketplace too.
With a growing population of 273,8 million, 59.32% of whom are between the ages of 15-54, it’s no wonder that e-Commerce is a booming industry in the country. Unfortunately, since most people have a relatively low income, counterfeiters with their offer of cheap goods have a fertile market. This means that Indonesia’s online marketplaces are often flooded by fake products.
Tokopedia connects the sellers or various product categories, including home appliances, electronics, fashion, books, and cosmetics with consumers. Unfortunately, many of those sellers offer counterfeit products.
As noted by the USTR’s list of notorious markets, Tokopedia features pirated books, fake cosmetics, clothing, and more. Sellers sometimes even use “copy” or “replica” in the description of their listings, but the platform seems to be ineffective in removing copyright-infringing content.
Indonesia. Offering a general range of products, like electronics, fashion, home decor, and cosmetics, Blibli tries to focus on Indonesian producers as much as possible.
As in the case of other marketplaces, the business model of working with third party sellers allows for fake sellers and grey marketers to access the platform and reach consumers.
Blibli is less forthcoming with seller information. However, in our experience they have proven to be quite cooperative when it comes to takedowns.
Screenshot of the homepage of blibli.com
Bukapalak has 17.1 million monthly views and an annual revenue of $95.8 million. After its successful phase as a unicorn, the company went public in August 2021 and boasted the largest IPO ($1.5 billion) the country has ever seen as well as a 25% gain in value on its first trading day.
Working with third party sellers and offering a large array of products from electronics to home appliances, Bukalapak is plagued by the same counterfeiting problem as many of its peers. So much so that the platform has made it onto the USTR’s list of notorious marketplaces. The report claims that “the majority of branded products on this platform are not genuine and that items are often openly labeled “replicas” of branded products.”
Bukapalak doesn’t disclose a lot of information about its sellers, but our requests for takedowns have always been answered within a reasonable time.