It is reported that Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, will shut its online e-commerce store, Youa, and migrate its users to other platforms. The company does however, claim that a new e-commerce platform is currently in the works.
The shutdown will take effect in May and Youa’s existing merchants are given a month to migrate to Rakuten China and Yaodian100. Despite dominating the local search market with a 75 percent share, its e-commerce platform, Youa, failed to gain traction because majority of online users still preferred Taobao to buy and sell goods online.
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Baidu spokeswoman Betty Tian said in a statement:
“This should not be seen as Baidu withdrawing from the e-commerce scene. In fact, we are in research and development on a new e-commerce platform product which will suit users better.”
Youa was originally set up to rival Alibaba’s popular online shopping site, Taobao; however, it’s closure only solidifies the leading e-commerce website’s position in China, which commands more than 70 percent of the market. The e-commerce site further establishes its ground by partnering with several popular retailer brands such as The Gap, Adidas AG, Levis and Japan’s Uniqlo, to open an online store. This is all despite being labeled by the U.S. Trade Representative as a “notorious market for pirated and counterfeit goods.”
China is the world’s largest internet market with more than 457 million users — that alone is enough reason for Baidu to not give up on the lucrative e-commerce market in the country. It is reported that web commerce in China has surged in recent years as people are becoming comfortable to switch to the internet to find better deals from reliable suppliers.