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Amazon Goes It Alone In China, With A New Name And URL

The American e-commerce site Amazon has made some big changes to its China site today – there’s now a new name and a new short URL, in a sign that the company is ready to stand alone on its global brand.

Formerly called “Joyo Amazon” – after buying out seven years ago in order to enter China – the name is, starting this morning, simplified to just “Amazon.” The new URL serves as an easy-to-remember shortcut to the ongoing homepage.

Although it sounds like a small change when said in English, it’s actually more significant in the Chinese language, as there has been a 100 percent switcheroo in the Chinese characters used in the branding of the site.

Joyo was created in 1999 by Chinese entrepreneur Lei Jun – now known to us for his Xiaomi smartphone – who then sold it to Amazon for US$75 million. In 2007, it moved to the domain – which it retains today, despite the new short URL – and then became “Joyo Amazon.”

Reminiscing on his Weibo this morning, Lei Jun said:

“Joyo: in January 1999, I established a small department within [anti-virus vendor] JinShan and began to experiment with the internet. My first idea was for Joyo to be a downloads site. The next idea was for e-commerce. In May 2000, I set up the independent company Joyo, firstly to sell movies, but that soon extended to books. It then became China’s leading [B2C] e-commerce site. In September 2004, it was sold to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Joyo shall forever remain in my heart. Best of luck to Amazon in China.

Behind the scenes, it’s business as usual at Amazon. Joyo’s former president, Wang Han-hua, remains as Amazon’s country manager. In China, Amazon has ten operations centers across the nation, and boasts 400,000 square meters of logistics-oriented floor-space. Not quite as big as the 1.47 million square meters throughout the US, though. But Amazon reports that only 57 percent of its revenue comes from its American operations.

Sales in China, however, are not so impressive as its floorspace. The phenomenal growth of books- and 3C-seller 360Buy in China in the past few years – to be number two in the B2C sector – shows that Amazon missed its prime opportunity in the country.

[Source: TechWeb – article in Chinese]

»  This article was first published by Penn Olson, The Asian Tech Catalog, and is reproduced here with permission.

This article originally appeared in Penn Olson.