China's Alibaba invests $157M in own search engine

E-commerce giant Alibaba launched its own search engine eTao last year

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is investing 1 billion yuan (US$157 million) in its eTao shopping search engine, as part of an effort to turn it into a leading destination for online consumers, it said on Wednesday.

ETao works as search engine to find and compare products indexed on the site. It also allows users to search for Web pages, forum posts and group buying deals.

The search engine, launched last year, is just one of the sites operating under Alibaba Group, which is also the parent of Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace, two of China's largest online retail sites.

Until recently, Alibaba Group and it subsidiaries have been mostly silent on the new shopping search engine. In September, however, Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma said the company launched eTao in order to ensure leading Chinese search engine Baidu wouldn't sleep well.

"If Baidu sleeps well then China's Internet users won't sleep well," Ma said during his speech.

Baidu currently has an 80 percent share of the Chinese search market, with Google a distant second, according to CNZZ.com, an Internet analytics site. Baidu has also entered into China's e-commerce market with its own online retail sites.

ETao, however, won't be a search engine solely for products offered under Alibaba. Instead, eTao is aiming to become a platform to search all Chinese retail sites, eTao president Wu Yongming said on Wednesday. ETao currently indexes products from 5,000 business-to-consumer sites in China.

But not all have been receptive to eTao's approach. Last week, the CEO of 360buy, a Chinese online retail site, complained in a microblog posting that eTao was using 360buy's reviews about products without its permission. 360buy and two other Chinese retailers have blocked eTao from crawling their sites for information, according to Alibaba.

Wu addressed the criticism on Wednesday and said Chinese retailers are still trying to understand whether eTao is a rival or a partner. "This will take sometime to recognize. But eTao is a partner," he said.

Wu also stressed eTao is meant to help users find the best shopping experience, by not only looking at product pricing, but the overall quality of service. "Consumers won't just see the top e-commerce sites, but through eTao, they can conveniently search for all products available."

By investing 1 billion yuan in eTao, the shopping search engine will also help vendors indexed on the site to gain exposure, he added. eTao plans to use the money on marketing campaigns and advertisements.

In July, eTao became a separate company under Alibaba Group, separating itself from Taobao Marketplace and Taobao Mall.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags e-commercebaiduAlibaba Groupinternetsearch engines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?