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Dedicated suppliers of fashion [Global Times]
[March 13, 2014]

Dedicated suppliers of fashion [Global Times]

(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Chinese fashionistas looking for a wider range of cutting-edge styles have increasingly turned to haitao, buying products from international websites and having them shipped to China. However, in addition to a language barrier, there are still many problems: a slow delivery speed, the inconvenience and cost of returning unsuitable goods, and the chance that a Chinese credit card will be rejected during the payment process.But the growing phenomenon of haitao has made China a big source of sales for international shopping sites. According to figures released by China e-Business Research Center, the total value of haitao transactions through agents (third parties like Amazon) in 2012 reached 48.3 billion yuan ($7.87 billion). The phenomenon has attracted an increasing number of international fashion websites to set up offices and warehouses in China, providing a localized service directly to Chinese consumers.

Screenshots of international online fashion retailers' China websites   Screenshots of international online fashion retailers' China websites   Screenshots of international online fashion retailers' China websites  Large market"Asos already had a large number of fans in the Chinese mainland before we opened our China office. Our active customers shopping at, the UK website, from the Chinese mainland was over 90,000 and Asos' sales to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, was over 30 million pounds ($49.99 million)," said Wang Yiqun, the general manager of Asos China. The British fashion retailer launched its Chinese website in November. China is the first Asian country where Asos has set up an office. "The purpose of establishing a local company is to offer the most fashionable products and the best customer experience to customers in China and the Asian market," Wang told the Global Times.Asos is a relative newcomer to China's international e-commerce scene. In recent years, a slew of foreign online fashion retailers have launched in China, most of which focus on luxury goods and designer labels, such as Yoox, thecorner and Net-A-Porter. The e-commerce operators hire local teams, from IT, warehouse and delivery to customer care and marketing, although the buying and merchandising are usually supported by the international headquarters. For Asos, the design, manufacture and pricing of products are all managed by UK headquarters, according to Wang, and designers in the UK will make special designs for the China market in the near future. Federico Marchetti, the founder of Yoox Group, told Chinese media that the company has a team of some 30 buyers located in Paris, Madrid, Japan and North America to decide which products will show up on their website pages.

Screenshots of international online fashion retailers' China websites Photos: Courtesy of the websites  Localized strategies"Chinese customers are used to shopping at big online superstores, such as Tmall, JD and Taobao, for a varied selection and easy price comparison. Meanwhile Western customers shop at both individual brand stores and big platforms. There are no monopoly players in Western countries," said Wang. "Chinese customers are more price sensitive and promotion driven; and they have much higher standards for delivery and customer service." She added that in Western countries, people may wait weeks for a parcel to arrive, but Chinese customers, especially in big cities like Shanghai, only have to wait overnight to have their order delivered. In the West, e-mail is the major communication tool between customers and customer support staff members, while in China, people are used to chatting via online instant messaging. To meet the expectations of local customers, the international online retailers also cooperate with locally based delivery companies. For example, Asos works with SF Express, China's leading express delivery service, and thecorner works with FedEx to deliver to more than 400 cities in China.  Most of the websites provide a number of payment options. Apart from credit card, they usually also support cash on delivery, which is not offered by popular websites such as Taobao, and Alipay, China's PayPal-like payment processing platform. A convenient return and refund service is also better operated than many Chinese websites. Thecorner even offers a "waiting service," which requires the courier to wait at a customer's doorstep while he or she tries on the new delivery so that an unsuitable item can be returned immediately. The website also attempts to tackle the widespread problem of counterfeit goods by inserting an RFID chip on the seal of the package. Promising prospectThe launch of Asos China has been warmly welcomed by Chinese fans of the brand. According to Wang, during the first month, Asos received 5,500 orders and achieved 3.4 million yuan in sales. The website's number of daily unique visitors in the first month was around 20,000 to 30,000 with a conversion rate between 1.5 to 2 percent. "We are quite satisfied with our first month of sales," said Wang. Asos China will also launch a Tmall store this year, with the aim of increasing sales and brand visibility in China. Wang believes that customers have changed a lot during a decade of e-commerce development. "At an earlier stage, online shoppers were driven by cheaper prices. Customers now are more sophisticated and care more about quality and personality," she said. "Online retail for the fashion industry is only 6 percent in China, whereas in the UK it is 25 percent. I believe that there is huge potential for fashion to develop e-commerce and even mobile commerce in China." (c) 2014 Global Times. All rights reserved. Provided by, an company

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