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29 Nov, 2015

Chinese play growing part in online shopping

By Hezi Jiang

New York (China Daily USA) 2015-11-26 — Foreign brands and retailers are ready for another Chinese “Duo Shou Day”, which translates into one’s hands being chopped because of an inability to refrain from online shopping.

Rewarded with good revenue on Singles Day on Nov 11, many international merchants are hoping to attract more Chinese online shoppers on Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree.

“Singles Day was very strong for us in both traffic and conversion,” said Kent Helbig, chief technology officer for Ashford.com, a retailer based in Brooklyn, New York. “We are continuing this strong partnership and cooperation with Alipay into Black Friday, with even more aggressive offers for our Chinese audience.

Chinese play growing part in online shopping

Workers collect customer orders during Black Friday deals week at an Amazon fulfilment centre in Hemel Hempstead, Britain, Nov 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Ashford CEO Mozes Hoch said that Chinese shoppers are better customers than Americans for their business, which focuses on reselling luxury watches.The company started its collaboration with Alipay ePass last year, and Hock said that with the added Alipay payment option to its website and fast logistics network provided by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, their connection to China has been brought to a different level.

“I was walking or using a bicycle,” he said. “Alipay brought us on a private plane to China. A 747.”

Ashford has been in China for two and a half years and now gets 40 percent of its transactions from IP addresses in China. That number is expected to keep growing.

Two of its men’s Swiss watches, 50 percent off and 60 percent off, made to the top 10 of Alipay’s Black Friday deals among fashion goods from major department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

“With the knowledge of the size of China’s e-commerce market and particularly after learning about Alibaba and Singles Day, most of the US and European brands and merchants are fully recognizing the potential of reaching China’s market via e-commerce,” said Jonathan Li, co-founder of Silicon Valley-based BorderX Lab, which provides Western brands with advertising channels to increase their presence and sales in the Chinese market.

After talking with more than 200 merchants, he concluded that many have tapped into China’s market through cross-border sales.

“Some also start getting on Tmall or JD for China entry. Thirdly, they start to make use of China social media such as Weibo and Wechat,” he said.

Luxury fashion brand Oscar de la Renta has recently joined Alipay ePass. Seattle-based jewelry retailer Blue Nile also has joined Tmall.

Chinese play growing part in online shopping

“For many years, Black Friday was a US-focused shopping event. Last year, we saw increased interest from customers in other parts of the world,” said Jon Sainsbury, president of international for Blue Nile.

“This year, we anticipate further globalization of Black Friday and customers shopping Blue Nile from around the world, especially from China,” he said.

Smaller and younger fashion boutiques also have their eyes on China. British designer brand Charlotte Olympia discovered last year that Chinese customers love the products, said Bruno Oghittu, e-commerce director.

For Black Friday, the brand created a free-shipping promotional code specifically for China, posted on Dealmoon, a popular deal site with the Chinese consumers.

“There are a few classic styles that are really popular,” said Bruno. “But Chinese girls are definitely some fashionistas. They also love fashion styles a little bit ‘crazy’.”

To serve its customers better during the holiday season, Ashford now has 25 customer service representatives who speak Mandarin or Cantonese.

“Chinese customers want to be treated respectfully when they are making a high-end purchase,” Hoch said. “They want to have a person to talk to.”