China Digital Roundup I Valentino, Luxury E-Commerce, Apple, Alibaba 11/11, Vancl

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through November 15th.

Valentino Targets Global Audience by Live-Streaming Shanghai Collection, from Luxury Daily

VALENTINO Fashion Show

Italian fashion house Valentino is taking an unconventional approach to promote the opening of its new store location in Shanghai by unveiling an exclusive collection Nov. 15 that will be available at this location months before it hits the shelves in other stores.

The Maison’s creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, designed the Shanghai collection that will premiere Nov. 14 on the Bund and via a live-stream on its Web site. By live-streaming the show, Valentino is giving consumers around the world the opportunity to participate in the opening of its newest flagship even though they cannot be there in person.

 

5 Tips for Luxury E-Commerce Success, from Jing Daily

5Lux example eshop

Luxury is set to take up a significant part of the online retail pie, with an estimation to be worth $27 billion by the end of this year. However, China’s e-tail landscape has proven especially tricky for luxury brands. Despite the significant profits to be made, Macy’s put its China e-commerce plans on hold in October of this year, which followed a decision by Neiman Marcus to downscale its China e-commerce operations several months ago.

These instances likely reflect the fact that luxury e-commerce faces many challenges in China, including logistical issues that harm quality of service, customer concerns about fakes, and fear of online fraud. However, the business climate may be improving: a recent survey of Chinese luxury customers by Ruder Finn and IPSOS found that 36 % of respondents prefer to shop for luxury goods online, a 22 % increase from 2012.

 

Apple is about to crash the party, claims L2 founder, from Luxury Daily

Apple Luxury orientations

L2′s founder predicted that technology giant Apple will be venturing into luxury categories in the near future to capitalize on enormous profit margins and its pristine brand image at the L2 Forum 2013. L2 Think Tank boss Scott Galloway pointed out that Apple’s acquisition of CEOs from Burberry and Saint Laurent indicates that the brand is forcefully moving toward the luxury sector. The founder also warned that luxury brands will begin to face increasing disruption from outsiders.

“Apple is about to crash the party,” Mr. Galloway said. “Why wouldn’t [Apple] migrate to [luxury]? The move gives consumers a chance to express their affinity for Apple with something other than [technology],” he said. “Luxury is on the verge of a massive disruption by competitors.”

 

$5.7 billion spent in 24 hours on ‘Cyber Monday’ Alibaba, from Tech In Asia

Alibaba Tmall

China’s 11/11 online shopfest – the country’s equivalent of America’s Cyber Monday – has just finished. It’s been a record-smashing mega-sale on hundreds of e-stores. Here at Alibaba HQ, the makers of China’s top online marketplaces are celebrating the biggest-ever shopping day: a grand total of $5.7 billion (RMB 35.02 billion) spent in the course of just 24 hours.

(Update: Total unique visitors on Tmall on this 11/11 hit 402 million, up from 213 million on the same day last year). The sales on Alibaba’s Tmall involved over 20,000 merchants on its online marketplace. That massive $5.7 billion figure counts only Tmall and Taobao customers who paid via the company’s own Alipay (like Paypal), so the total spending amount will be higher once all payment methods are totaled up. The most popular store on Tmall all day was the official shop of Xiaomi, China’s upstart phone-maker.

 

Chinese clothing e-tailer Vancl gets $100 million funding, from Tech In Asia

Vancl eshop

Chinese clothing e-tailer Vancl, which sells Muji/Uniqlo-esque cheap yet funky clothing on the web, has wrapped up its seventh round of venture capital funding. The newest tranche is worth $100 million, Vancl vice president Xu Xiaohui revealed to China’s Economic Observer newspaper. No further details were given.

Vancl – which also has an open marketplace for clothing-related merchants called V+ – is still dogged by rumors of financial problems. Vancl has raised over $400 million in its previous rounds from the likes of IDG Capital, but the e-store spent 2012 shedding thousands of jobs, and earlier this year restructured its business divisions as it seeks to remain agile amidst ever stronger e-commerce competition in China.

China Digital Roundup I The Left Shoe Company, Tmall, Cartier, Le Printemps

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through November 12th.

The Left Shoe Company: Old Craftsmanship and New Tech, from Business Of Fashion

Left Shoe Company Scan

The London outpost of Finnish upstart The Left Shoe Company is located in a jewel-sized store in Princes Arcade, a covered shopping arcade that runs between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street in one of the British capital’s smartest shopping districts, known for its men’s shoe and shirtmakers.

At the store, customers can order made-to-measure shoes, selecting from six different sole options and 20 different upper variations, available in a wide range of colors and materials, from leather and suede sourced from Italy to exotic skins like stingray and alligator, sourced from Taiwan and Paraguay, respectively. The shoes are designed by Maurizio Mazzucato, who works with some of Italy’s largest fashion houses.

 

Alibaba’s Tmall Sees $500 Million spent in First 20 Minutes, from Tech In Asia

Tmall Singles Days

It has just turned November 11 in China, commencing the nation’s craziest day of online shopping discounts and spending. It’s called 11/11. At Alibaba HQ, China’s top e-commerce company is watching its consumers spending in real-time in what I like to call its ‘big data’ war-room. Alibaba’s Tmall, its open marketplace for merchants, saw $177 million spent in the first six minutes. That leapt to $266 million (RMB 1.64 billion) after the first ten minutes, and then to very near $500 million (RMB $3.021 billion) at the 20-minute mark. (UPDATE: After the first 50 minutes, $1 billion has been spent).

In the hour before midnight, Alibaba representatives said that six million people had put items in their virtual baskets, awaiting the start of 11/11 and for the discounts to become active. More than 20,000 merchants on the Tmall online marketplace – from small businesses to major brands like Uniqlo – are taking part in the sales day.

 

How to Set up a Fashion Business from Scratch via e-Commerce, from Business Of Fashion

eCommerce Fashion Brands

It’s no secret that the web has become one of the most effective tools for fashion brands to market and sell their wares. According to market research firm Emarketer, online sales of apparel and accessories are now growing faster than any other e-commerce product segment (20 percent per year).

By 2016, the category will account for $73 billion worth of online purchases in the US alone, just over 20 % of all online retail sales. And while young fashion brands will always need to maintain offline touch points where customers can touch, feel and try on product, seizing the e-commerce opportunity is equally crucial to long-term success.

 

Cartier CEO Stresses Importance of Carefully Curated Digital Presence, from Luxury Daily

Cartier - YouTube

The North America chief of French jeweler Cartier at the L2 Forum 2013 said that while the brand is investing heavily in digital media, the house proceeds with caution when applying a new social media tactic, keeping in mind the brand image and long legacy.

While other brands jumped on Facebook and began posting a lot of content, Cartier decided to test the waters first, only posting one item a month out of worries that fans would tire of seeing multiple posts from them. During the “A Conversation with Prestige CEOs” session the Cartier executive said that the jewelry brand has since raised the frequency of its social media postings, but still keeps a tight hold on its presence online.

 

Printemps Sets E-commerce Strategy, from WWD

Le Printemps Paris

Absent from e-commerce until now, Printemps said it hopes to generate at least 10 % of its sales from the channel within three to four years.
“We believe the French market is at a tipping point,” Printemps chairman and CEO Paolo de Cesare said. “Customers want to have an experience online, and in a physical store.”

Last month, Printemps acquired French fashion e-commerce site Place des Tendances from media firm TF1 Group, and de Cesare said it would be its main vehicle in the online world.

China Digital Roundup I Mandarin Oriental, Lyst, The Fancy, Giorgio Armani

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through November 5th.

Mandarin Oriental Instagram Contest, from Luxury Daily

#MOinsider Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is furthering its 50th anniversary celebrations with an Instagram contest until Nov. 14 that aims to compile a broad range of experiences to give prospective consumers a feel for the area. The #MOInsider contest asks fans to submit photos of must-see experiences that represent what what Hong Kong and Bangkok mean to them. The deliberately broad guidelines for the contest will likely generate a full view of both environments.

“Instagram contests that focus on experience and destination oriented themes rather than narrow themes can be more successful in attracting participation and engagement from followers because it’s inclusive of everyone not just hotel guests,” said Tiffany Dowd, founder and president of Luxe Social Media, Boston. “Social media is all about word of mouth and peer-to-peer recommendations,” she said.

 

One Card to Rule Them All, from Business of Fashion

What's on your it lyst

The Internet has re-wired the way we shop. No longer limited to retailers that happen to be nearby, shoppers are now able to browse a much larger catalogue of products than ever before, across a wide array of e-commerce sites. But sifting though this expanded offering to find the right products poses new challenges of its own.

By aggregating large databases of products under one roof and layering on social curation tools, sites like Lyst and The Fancy have emerged to help consumers browse many retailers in one place, separate signal from noise, and find more interesting and personally relevant items. “It’s very easy to arrange things on-the-fly online, based on what you’re interested in,” says Chris Morton, founder and CEO of Lyst. “I now expect an experience that knows what I like and shows it to me.”

 

China’s 464 Million Mobile Web User in 2013, from Tech In Asia

A portrait of China's 464 million mobile web users (INFOGRAPHIC)

China has 591 million internet users and over 460 million mobile web users, according to figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). So who are these people, and what are they doing online on their phones?

A new infographic from Go Globe answers these questions. Delving into official figures, the graphic reveals that China’s mobile netizens are mostly young – 73.3 percent of them are under 36 years old.

 

Armani Website Redesign Shows Pinterest Influence, from Luxury Daily

Armani.com Online Store

Italian fashion label Giorgio Armani is seeking to pull consumers to its ecommerce options with a new Web site that emphasizes simplicity. The redesign allows consumers to easily navigate the world of Armani through enhanced search functions and cleaner categories. By making the Web site more functional, Armani is likely to see a boost in ecommerce.

“The Armani site redesign clearly shows the influence of Pinterest, which is a good thing,” said Michael Tchong, founder of Social Revolution and trend analyst at Ubercool, San Francisco.

Glamour Sales – Why mobile is a key for flash sales in China?

The Glamour Sales China homepage. (Glamour Sales)

With substantial discounts and limited quantities, online flash sales of designer goods became an e-commerce staple in the West after the start of the recession. According to Thibault Villet, CEO and co-founder of flash sales site Glamour Sales China, this lightning-fast form of e-commerce has just as much potential in Asian markets. After setting up in Japan in 2009, Glamour Sales Group opened its Chinese site in 2010, and announced a partnership with Neiman Marcus in 2012.

Villet recently presented on his company’s business strategy at Velvet Group’s Shanghai Fashion Web conference, which brought together industry professionals to discuss cutting-edge developments in digital marketing and e-commerce. Jing Daily reached out to Villet via email to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges that accompany conducting this distinctive form of e-commerce in China, including the specific demands of Chinese consumers and the constant need to adapt to rapidly changing technology.

Who is your target demographic in terms of age, income, and location? 

Over the last four years, we have grown a qualified  database of over 2.5 million fashionista members in China. They are spread out across 1,000 cities in all provinces, equally split between tier-one, tier-two, and tier-three and four cities. While we predominately target women aged 25 to 45, we also have a robust and fast-growing male customer base. All our customers, being  entrepreneurs, executives, or white collars, have in common the characteristics of being smart shoppers, highly interested in fashion, and open-minded to discover new brands.

Thibault Villet.

Are there any differences between conducting online flash sales in China as opposed to Europe or the United States?

The main difference versus Europe is that Chinese customers are very demanding when it comes to customer service and have been used to very fast delivery services. We deliver our customers across China in one to three days, and accept unconditional returns within seven days.

Versus the United States, Chinese customers expect much more detailed informations on brands and products, which requires additional depictions and detailed copywriting.

What are some of the main reasons your customers like to participate in flash sales—is it more about the bargain, the “thrill” that comes with buying something in limited quantity before it runs out, or the website’s curation?

Customers like to participate to our flash sales because of three factors: the website curation and the guarantee that all the products sold on Glamour Sales are authentic and of great quality, the excitement of the daily race, which on Glamour Sales China starts at 9 a.m., and the opportunity to buy at real bargain prices, which Glamour Sales does as we exclusively cooperate directly with brands or their official distributors, hence guaranteeing the best prices on the market.

What are some of the greatest challenges to conducting e-commerce in China at the moment?   

The market is growing fast and customers are expecting high-quality customer services, which starts from website speed to call center abilities to handle customer care. While we grow, offering a consistent and qualitative customer experience is our daily company focus. Technology is also evolving rapidly, and we have to continuously transform ourselves. We already run four platforms, including three mobile ones, and will release a  new version of the website before the end of the year.

How many customers purchase via mobile device as opposed to on a computer at the moment? Do you see this changing in the future?

We prepared ourselves for the rapid shift from desktop to mobile, as our sister company in Japan had already experienced it two years ago. Mobile commerce in China is now the fastest growing channel, and already represents a significant share of our business. It forces companies like ourselves to develop contents which are adapted first to mobile, and that will then be used on desktops.

How does your company utilize social media marketing?

Social media marketing is a the center of our marketing strategy in China. Our customers follow us on various platforms (Weibo, WeChat, etc.); we have built  strong and long-lasting relationships with social media key opinion leaders as well as key platforms such as Mogujie. We also  fully engage our own customer care teams in a personalized social relationship with our members and customers.

What is the status of Glamour Sales’ partnership with Neiman Marcus at the moment? Will there be any changes to the partnership now that the company is being sold?  

Neiman Marcus is and remains a strategic investor in Glamour Sales Holdings, and we are very pleased with this partnership.

– See more here on Jingdaily website.

WeChat – New features to gain foothold in B2C sector

Although instant messaging tools are most commonly used by individuals for personal communication (C-to-C), WeChat, a leading Chinese IM app, gradually established its presence as a major channel of online marketing (B-to-C). The newly launched 5.0 gives special focus to business users by adding a list of new features that caters for the business demands.

Alexis Bonhomme, the general manager at Curiosity China, a WeChat integrated agency focuses on foreign premium brands promotion, shared with us his experiences of running marketing campaign on WeChat platform at Shanghai Fashion Web recently held by digital consulting agency Velvet Group.

There are two kinds of business accounts, the service accounts and the official accounts. Both of them integrated navigation menus in the interface to include richer contents.

Service accounts allow brands to send messages directly to the personal chat windows of each consumer, which guaranteed high visibility and opening rate. Contrary to online marketing on Weibo, where companies can push ads at a high frequency, service accounts can send around one push marketing message per month. This restriction not only protects users from spams but also encourage brands to be more creative in compiling ads. The main idea is to provide high-quality content experience and increase the activity rate on the WeChat brand account. This kind of one-to-one communication is especially suitable for the promotion of premium brands or high-tier services, because it guaranteed the senses of “exclusivity” and “intimacy”.

2

The official accounts of Wechat 5.0 are basically consistent with the 4.0 version in terms of functions. Official accounts cannot send ads to individual chat windows like service accounts, but it allows higher ad pushing frequency of one message per day. However, this mechanism leads to risks that users may “unfollow” the account to avert ad harassment. Official accounts will be more useful for mass-market brands that aim at maximum followers.

QQ截图20130919142429

With the newly added payment function, WeChat users can purchase products from e-commerce platforms, such as BuyQQ, Amazon, Yihaodian, or Dangdang, via their credit cards bundled to WeChat accounts. Users will be directed to the platforms that sell their desired products by scanning the QR codes.

Both of the abovementioned accounts feature more CRM technical tools like listing all the stores of a certain brand and help users to pinpoint the nearest outlet or find sales promotion based on LBS. Moreover, this feature will help the promotion of brands so as to increase the traffic of new or less-known outlets.

WeChat also kicked off several technical developments for the new version. The LBS function will provide a better online to offline user experience. For example, if a Guangdong-based customer is shopping in a Beijing store of certain brand that he or she is a member, we can imagine in the future that the system will suggest the shopping guide to talk to the customer in Cantonese.

When companies post ads on different advertising channels, such as various fashion magazines or websites, there will be tiny differences in the QR bars printed on them. In the back-end system, the companies will know which customer is from which channel, a valuable data to support the compilation of future marketing strategies. Last but not least, WeChat starts to be seen as a R.O.I calculator and is used to increase the efficiency of the marketing spending.

– See more here on Technode website.

Christian Louboutin Asia Has Arrived

Christian Louboutin Has Arrived (edm)Christian Louboutin launched first online boutique in Asia, shipping to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.

This marks the French footwear specialist’s third e-commerce launch, with online boutiques already present in North America and Europe since 2010.

Online luxe fashion retailing has picked up in Asia in recent years. Fashion giant Lane Crawford, for example, added its e-commerce arm in 2011, while retailers like The Outnet and Mr Porter, and even smaller startups like Zooq are also contenders in the Asian e-commerce realm.