Alibaba hits 3 trillion yuan transaction milestone

Alibaba reaches transaction milestone
Alibaba reaches transaction milestone   

Alibaba surpassed 3 trillion yuan ($463 billion) in transactions in its fiscal year to March, the Chinese e-commerce giant said on Monday, marking slowing growth.

The figure is a 23 percent rise in gross merchandise volume (GMV) year-on-year with less than two weeks to go before the company's fiscal year ends on March 31. This compares with 46 percent growth in fiscal 2015. Still, it's a tripling of the 1 trillion yuan in GMV recorded in 2012.

Alibaba owns several online e-commerce channels which it has been expanding in its home market. It has also been pushing its platforms into more rural areas of China and abroad, Alibaba appointed managers to run its U.K. and Italian offices to help businesses in those countries sell into China.

"It's a consumer (in China) where wages are growing double-digits and there is a good Chinese consumption story. And then you lay on top of that the shift towards online and the fact it's happening faster in China than it is in other countries…that's driving massive user interest and purchases," James Gautrey, portfolio manager and global technology sector specialist at Schroders, told CNBC in a phone interview on Monday.

Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.
Chance Chan | Reuters

In a blog post, Joe Tsai, Alibaba group executive vice chairman, explained that the company's GMV highlighted the shift away from China's investment and export-led growth to a focus on consumption.

"At the heart of this new economy is Alibaba," Tsai said.

GMV is a key metric watched closely by Alibaba's investors, but Tsai said that it will become less important as the company expands beyond just an e-commerce player.

"While GMV is a proxy for scale, our focus on quality and sustainable growth means how we measure success is no longer dependent on a simplistic view of GMV growth. This is because we now deliver multiple value propositions to the businesses that take advantage of our marketing platform and commerce infrastructure services," Tsai wrote.

"In other words, Alibaba today is much more than a sales and distribution channel."

Still, Alibaba's GMV growth has received some criticism. Earlier this month, China's state television channel CCTV, said faking orders continues to be a big issue on Alibaba's sites. The practice known as "brushing" involves sellers paying people to place fake orders in order to boost their ratings. This practice would also have an impact on GMV.

At the time, Alibaba said that it "is continually upgrading our technology to better detect and identify these practices", in a statement to theWall Street Journal.