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How This Discount E-Comm Marketplace Wants to Compete With Amazon

A competitor to Wish and AliExpress is targeting Amazon in Europe, and looking to crack the French market, home to some of most important—and active—customers on the continent.

Joom co-founder and CEO Ilya Shirokov told Reuters that the Russian company currently hawks 40,000 French products but plans to recruit French sellers to its marketplace in a bid to further entice quality-centric French shoppers and reduce time to delivery. Joom sells a variety of largely low-priced goods, from clothing and shoes to wigs, cell phone cases and power cards, most of which are unbranded merchandise that ships directly from Chinese manufacturers and can take months to arrive at the doorstep of customers in countries across the globe.

The Joom app commands 4.7 star ratings in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play store but on review platform TrustPilot, 69 percent of 958 reviews give the company a 1-star rating amid rampant complaints over products that never arrived, shoddy customer service, difficulty receiving refunds and poor product quality. Joom offers free shipping but requires customers to return product for a refund at their own cost—a pricey prospect given that most sellers are based in China.

Joom’s expansion plans point to the continuing strength of the off-price sector of retail, which has flourished in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of cross-border e-commerce in opening up bargain options to a global audience. Shirokov told Reuters the company, which claims to offer the world’s lowest prices, has set a goal to eventually “become the number two choice in France and in Europe after Amazon.”

According to data from Statista, Amazon’s business in France generated $2.5 billion last year as the dominant player in e-commerce. The No. 2 player, cdiscount.com, which similarly sells a smorgasbord of product categories, pulled in $2.3 billion. Joom is shooting for $1 billion in gross merchandise value this year, Reuters reported.