• Alibaba's APASS Club serves as the e-commerce firm's "invite-only membership program for Chinese luxury consumers."

Alibaba's APASS Club serves as the e-commerce firm's "invite-only membership program for Chinese luxury consumers." (Photo : Getty Images)

With Amazon's forthcoming plans to open its Southeast Asian operations, Alibaba-controlled e-commerce company Lazada is setting its sights on further regional expansion, as it banks on its status as the leading online shopping website in Southeast Asia.

Yet, with Southeast Asia fast becoming among the leading hubs for online shopping with its double-digit growth in online shopping according to Pymnts.com, Lazada can only expect to have several competitors looking to knock it out of its perch, with Amazon threatening to be the strongest contender.

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Amazon enjoys a sterling-grade reputation for its international presence and overall status as among the world's best online shopping sites, which is why any e-commerce player in Southeast Asia have ample reasons to feel threatened by its presence in the region, which is reportedly said to happen this year.

Moreover, other big names in Chinese e-commerce are setting their sights on further investment in Southeast Asia, which is home to 620 million people. The likes of JD.com, Tencent, and Didi Chuxing have expanded their operations in the region since last year.

In that case, Lazada's need to stay strong amid tightening competition has coincided well with Alibaba's expansion in Southeast Asia, which saw the world's largest retailer acquire a controlling stake in the Singapore-based e-commerce company last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Alibaba's expansion in Southeast Asia and Tencent's outward growth greatly contributed to the region's status as the world's third-largest hub for tech mergers and acquisitions in 2016, having put in a combined $1.9 billion worth of deals compared to just $193 million in the previous year.

Thus, the growing propensity of global e-commerce giants to seize the fruits of online shopping's growing popularity in Southeast Asia puts to the fore a Lazada versus Amazon showdown in the years to come - of course, with Alibaba having a significant hand in that.