Retail platform Shopify and digital wallet provider Alipay have joined forces in a new partnership revealed Tuesday that allows the former’s U.S. merchants to accept payments from customers based in China and other Asian markets.
With the Alipay payment gateway, Shopify merchants are positioned to lean into major shopping holidays such as the Lunar New Year in February and the next 11.11 Global Festival, aka Singles Day, in November 2021.
Alibaba’s most recent Singles Day shopping event netted massive online sales, garnering nearly $74.1 billion in gross merchandise volume during the multiday event and channeling $449 million in sales to Italian brands.
In a blog post, Shopify also noted that U.S.-based businesses nabbed more than $5.4 billion in sales over the last Singles Day, “making the U.S. the top international market during the festival.” The company itself is based in Ottawa, but it supports 1 million businesses, both small and large, in 175 different countries, including the U.S.
“At Shopify, we believe in a world of borderless commerce and are focused on helping our merchants build thriving businesses — not just within their own markets, but on a truly international scale,” said Kaz Nejatian, Shopify’s vice president of product and merchant services.
The Alipay partnership could go a long way in delivering on that cross-border potential.
The payment provider was already an option for Shopify merchants, but only via third-party apps. A more direct integration should reduce friction and open transactions up for a much broader array of consumers. Alipay serves more than 1 billion annual active users in China, and its roadmap includes extending that reach to hundreds of millions more across Asia.
In a February 2019 blog post, Shopify described North America as second to Asia in total e-commerce sales, with $552.6 billion versus $831.7 billion, respectively. China accounts for the largest — and fastest growing — single market in that region.
Granted, that was before the coronavirus pandemic. But the company still believes that “reaching consumers across Asia is an enormous growth opportunity for our merchants,” Nejatian added.
The Alipay payments gateway launches for U.S. Shopify merchants immediately, with additional markets following in the future, including Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Canadian commerce platform has had a crazed 2020, trying to help its stores weather the storm of the global health crisis — from offering advice on how to adapt to shifting consumer behaviors to overcoming production or inventory challenges — while also capitalizing on online opportunities, as shoppers en masse flock to e-commerce.
This year, Shopify has partnered with everyone from Walmart to installment payments service Affirm and social media phenomenon TikTok while continuing to develop the platform and launch a new shopping assistant app and new 3-D and video features.