Amazon is preparing to close down its Chinese marketplace after 15 years operating in the world’s most populous nation, instead focusing on its other services, in a sign that it may have been struggling to compete with local giants such as Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com.
Customers visiting Amazon.cn will no longer be able to buy products from third-party merchants in the country, but will still be able to order items from the US, UK, Germany, and Japan via the company’s global store, reports Reuters. The date this will happen, according to Bloomberg, is 18 July.
In addition to leaving its global store accessible, Amazon will continue to enable Chinese merchants to ship to customers abroad, while continuing to operate its Amazon Web Services and Kindle eBooks businesses.
Nonetheless, it is expected that Amazon will close its fulfilment centres and slowly begin removing support for Chinese domestic-selling merchants over the next 90 days.
Amazon entered China in 2004 when it acquired local online bookseller Joyo.com for $75m. This would become Amazon.cn in 2007 and eventually lead to Kindle launching in China in 2013 and Amazon Prime debuting in 2016.
Even with the introduction of most of the services it has in other markets, Amazon has never been able to eclipse the powerhouses like Alibaba and JD – the US company holding less than one per cent market share in China.