Online retail now is more popular than ever. Although luxury brands are the latecomers of e-commerce it seems no one can resist online shopping.
Earlier this year, news broke that French luxury goods group LVMH was to set up a new e-commerce platform named 24 Sèvres to host all of its brands. Meanwhile, Wechat, China’s most popular messaging app, has become a platform to test online sales with Dior, Bulgari, and Burberry.
As global retailers and consumers are slowly adapting to the idea of shopping for luxury goods online, Chinese consumers love to follow fashion trends and tend to purchase top sellers, especially for foreign products. According to the report by Ruder Finn in 2016, online purchases amounted to 26 percent of luxury spending by mainland Chinese customers. Thus, e-commerce proved to be a major opportunity for luxury brands. Since not all of them have fully embraced online opportunities in China due to concerns over counterfeits and the idea to protect brand exclusivity, many luxury brands designate their presence on Chinese online shopping platforms through both official and unofficial channels.
Tmall and JD.com seem to be the first names to take up a large portion of China’s online luxury retail pie. Yet below are five other popular luxury e-commerce sites international brands should know about to gain a better understanding of China’s e-luxury landscape.
Founded in 2008, Secoo (寺库) is one of the largest Chinese multi-brand luxury B2C platforms. Secoo operates through both offline stores and an online mall; it has stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, NYC, Milan, etc.
Secoo specializes in luxury clothing and accessories for men and women from big-name brands, including Burberry, Miu Miu, Hermes, Rolex, Longines, and Bulgari. Additionally, to cater to Chinese consumers’ growing desire for a high-end lifestyle, the platform introduced cars from brands such as Bentley and Porsche as well as yachts and personal jets.
The company approaches e-commerce with an omnichannel strategy, running its website and mobile app alongside offline boutiques located in both mainland China as well as Hong Kong, Milan, and Tokyo. When an order is made online, the item is shipped directly from abroad, and consumers can either have it delivered to their home or pick it up at Secoo’s stores in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, where in some cases, according to L2, customers can have the authenticity of their purchases verified.
Meici (美西, “Western beauty”) is a Shanghai-based luxury fashion online retailer aimed at Chinese consumers. It was launched in 2008 and has been bringing the latest fashion trends and innovative online shopping experiences to Chinese consumers through digital platforms.
Meici quickly became popular in the booming Chinese e-commerce world with its minimal black-and-white homepage design that organizes shopping categories by women’s, men’s, and kids’ fashion. In addition to luxury brands such as Bally, Cartier, Dior, and Paul Smith, one can also find trending designer brands including Stuart Weitzman, Iceberg, and Circle.
Apart from its online platform and mobile app, Meici has a flagship store called “Meici Cafe” in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Shanghai and runs an e-magazine that offers customers the latest fashion tips and recommends “must-buy” items to its audience.
5Lux.com is a high-end B2C e-commerce platform providing a comprehensive list of luxury goods to its visitors, from clothing and jewelry to food, wine, and home accessories. The site was launched in 2009 and quickly attracted 1,000 registered members within its first month. The website now turns over RMB 500 million a year in sales.
5Lux has become a leader in online luxury retail and while many other brands are conservative about offering promotional sales online 5Lux offers exclusive 20-80 percent discounts on over 1000 brands including Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Coach, and Calvin Klein.
Moreover, to keep up with the gift-giving culture in China, 5Lux has a dedicated page where consumers can browse gifts based on gender, price, occasion, and even shipping location.
Shangpin (translated as “fashion” and “taste”) is a luxury fashion e-commerce retailer that hosts high-end brands including 3.1. Phillip Lim, Burberry, Gucci, Fendi, and Moschino. It also enjoys an exclusive agreement with the British high-street brand Topshop in China.
Like the other domestic players in the Chinese e-commerce market, Shangpin understands how to drive its consumers’ shopping desire and collaborates with celebrities and KOLs a lot to showcase their influence via recommendations. For example, shopping guide titles like “Popular Handbags Owned by Celebrities in 2017” give consumers inspiration from their favorite KOLs.
More recently, Shangpin launched a separate channel on the platform that features a curated selection of 80 Chinese brands demonstrating the growing influence and popularity of China’s own fashion designer scene.
A leading Chinese online luxury retailer Xiu.com was founded in 2008 and covers over 5000 brands, including clothing, handbags, shoes and health care products. Xiu.com manages sales, logistics, customer service, and eBay style website maintenance to satisfy the growing needs of Chinese customers. Actually, eBay has partnered Xiu.com as they have realized they don’t understand Chinese business very well, so it’s better to work with one retailer in segment market.
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