Multichannel / Research and Intelligence

Overseas Retailers Take Online Seriously in China

Chinese Dragon Dance

As China’s e-commerce potential swells, it becomes a more attractive proposition for online retailers. However, methods for cracking this market differ markedly.

Large US retail firms like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and German retailer Metro have all been seen to be making a bid for a foothold in Chinese e-commerce.

Macy’s recently paid US$15 million for an undisclosed equity stake in VIPStore, which owns Omei.com, a new digital platform aimed to sell luxury and fashion brands. VIPStore also runs Jiapin.com, a flash-sales site. Macy’s will now have the opportunity to sell carefully choses product-lines in these channels, before potentially building-out their offering.

“We continue to believe there is significant long-term opportunity internationally for both Macy’s and Bloomindale’s. But we need to be certain that out future decisions in this regard are based on fact and experience,” CEO Terry Lundgren said.

“We still have a lot to learn about the shopping patterns and merchandise preferences of consumers in China’s very diverse and rapidly emerging consumer marketplace.”

  • Neiman Marcus acquired a share in Glamour Sales Holding Ltd (another Chinese fashion site) earlier this year, spending US$28 million on the deal.
  • Walmart is also waiting regulatory approval for its bid to take a 51 percent share of Yihaodian, an online grocery specialist.
  • On another level, GSI Commerce, an eBay holding, has partnered with the digital retail services provider Fireswirl in order to help clients expand within China.

While it may seem that US-backed companies are leading the charge into China, there are several European interests making similar moves. These occurrences show the level of optimism that the retail industry sees in China’s future.

Yet to make any significant headway into the Chinese market are Australian retailers, despite proximity. Reasons for this vary, especially as the Australian dollar oscillates. Are you able to ship to China affordably? Are there other reasons stopping Australian retailers marketing to Chinese consumers?

For in-depth information on how to expand your offering overseas, please see Power Retail’s free Special Report #21: Growing Globally

 

One Comment

  • Good idea, bad case of too-much-money-itis, throwing millions at Chinese companies that have no idea how to deliver the goods. Look at Fireswirl; they’ve all but crash-landed HTC in China and are basically in receivership. Hope GSI is doing its due diligence.

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