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Shuli Ren

China Goes for Broke in Indonesian E-Commerce

Mainland tech giants are snapping up online-retail startups, but it’ll be hard to make a profit.

Tokopedia PT, Indonesia’s largest online retailer in terms of gross merchandise volume, got $1.1 billion from Alibaba last year.

Tokopedia PT, Indonesia’s largest online retailer in terms of gross merchandise volume, got $1.1 billion from Alibaba last year.

Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

China’s deep-pocketed internet giants are fighting a turf war in Indonesia, where e-commerce sales could surpass India’s as soon as 2020. 

The only problem is that there’s almost no path to profitability.