Taobao Marketplace, Alibaba Group’s giant Chinese shopping website, has been enhancing and expanding the services it offers to mobile users in the run-up to the site’s annual 12.12 online sale.
At a press conference held today in Hangzhou, China, Taobao President Zhang Jianfeng said the company is developing its mobile-shopping app to make it easier for consumers to search among products offered by some eight million small merchants hosted on the C2C site so they can “discover the exact items they want.”
In addition to a better searches, the app, Mobile Taobao, has been upgraded for faster order placement and e-payment settlement. It also has a new function to enable consumers to quickly search for a particular piece of clothing online by taking a photo of the physical item using their smartphones.
Mobile Taobao is the largest m-commerce platform in the world, Taobao officials said. During Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Festival held Nov. 11, transactions over mobile devices reached RMB 24.3 billion ($3.95 billion), representing 42.6 percent of total GMV (gross merchandise volume) recorded for the sale. Most of the mobile orders were generated through Mobile Taobao.
Taobao is hoping to maintain momentum from the 11.11 Shopping Festival, which features slashed prices on products sold by big, well-known Chinese and international brands, through its upcoming 12.12 online sale.
Held annually by Taobao Marketplace, the 12.12 sale is a lower-profile promotion geared to boost revenue for the website’s small- and micro-merchants, who have a hard time competing amid the din and discounts of the hugely popular 11.11 Shopping Festival.
Taobao expects more than one million virtual stores offering 10 million products and services will participate in the Dec. 12 sale this year. The website plans several special promotions, among them:
• Some 150 independent designers and 130 contract manufacturers that help produce goods for top brands will use the event to showcase their own low-cost products.
• More than 500 real estate developments are partnering with Taobao’s real estate channel to offer 40,000 discount-priced properties. Homebuyers can make appointments online to visit the properties in person before buying.
• Taobao’s auction platform will be putting up for bid several unusual items on Dec. 12 with the proceeds to be donated to charity. Listed items include a date with Chinese actress Lin Zhiling and admission to next year’s Academy Awards slated to be held Feb. 22 in Hollywood.
• To highlight Taobao’s expanding variety of “life services” offered online, cleaning services will be offered in 27 cities at a discounted rate of RMB 5 per hour. Laundry services will also be available at RMB 9.90 for coats and sweaters.