Another big brand is opening a store on Tmall, the brand-friendly online shopping mall operated by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Zara will open its official Tmall store next month, says parent company Industria de Diseño Textil S.A, the Spanish apparel retailer most often referred to as Inditex. Three of Zara’s sister brands have opened stores on Tmall this year: Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Pull&Bear.
Zara entered China in 2006 and now operates 146 stores there, according to the company. The fast-fashion brand began to sell online to Chinese shoppers on its own site, Zara.cn, in 2012.
“The Zara presence on Tmall will be totally consistent with our image and our commercial proposition,” says Inditex chairman and CEO Pablo Isla. “It is like opening a store in a shopping mall. In terms of how it works, it is no different from our online sales through our own web site.”
Tmall has become one of the fastest growing businesses of Alibaba, which went public last week in the biggest IPO in history. In 2013, the value of merchandise sold on Tmall increased 105.1% over the prior year, Alibaba says. However, Taobao, Alibaba’s largest online marketplace where more than 8 million merchants compete, remains much larger than Tmall, accounting for 68% of the value of goods sold on Alibaba’s Chinese marketplaces during the quarter ended June 30.
Tmall is attractive to international brands because it allows them to create their own branded storefronts where only their products appear. Among the major brands selling in Tmall are Burberry, Apple and Nike.
Several Inditex competitors already have stores on Tmall that complement their bricks-and-mortar stores in China. They include U.S.-based Gap Inc. and Forever 21 Inc., and Uniqlo Co. of Japan.
Nor is it just Alibaba attracting overseas brands to its online marketplaces. Earlier this month international fashion brand Topshop began selling on Chinese e-commerce site Shangpin.com.
All these international brands will compete for the attention of Chinese online consumers during the big forthcoming Chinese online shopping event, Singles Day, which is Nov. 11. On Singles Day last year, Alibaba’s marketplaces handled $5.8 billion in orders. The No.1 brand for women’s apparel that day was Uniqlo, which retailer sold 120 million Yuan ($19.4 million) worth products in 24 hours, according to Uniqlo.
The Zara store on Tmall, zara.tmall.com, is accessible but is not yet listing any products. However, the store’s registration information on Tmall shows that it is operated by ITX Fashion Ltd., the e-commerce arm of Inditex.
Gap ranks No. 275 in the Internet Retailer China 500. Uniqlo is No. 107 and Forever 21 is No. 320.Favorite