Alibaba Group and the Government of Italy signed an agreement on Wednesday to make it easier and faster for Italian businesses to open virtual stores on the platform.
This agreement between Alibaba Group and a foreign government is the second such agreement in a month that hopes to pave the way for enhanced cross-border trade between China and the world. Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company in 2013 in terms of gross merchandise volume, will provide Italian businesses looking open stores on Tmall.com with enrollment support, online marketing and customer service support. A similar deal was struck late last month between Alibaba Group and the French government to aid French businesses in launching stores on Tmall.com.
The three-year agreement was part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development and Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma in Beijing.
“Through this MOU we hope to make more Italian brands and products available to the hundreds of millions of online and mobile shoppers across China, and at the same time help Italian brands and companies to directly tap into the insatiable demand from Chinese consumer,” said Alibaba Group’s Executive Chairman Jack Ma.
As part of the MOU, both parties will work together to figure out which product categories on Tmall.com present the best business opportunities for Italian companies and will also satisfy the needs of Chinese customers, said a joint press release. Alibaba Group’s business units, such as its business-to-business platform Alibaba.com and related logistics company Cainiao, will also explore cooperation with Italian companies.
Italian brands have long been popular with China’s wealthy, emerging consumers who crave imported luxury products to show off their status. To mark the MOU, 30,000 Italian cookies, never before sold in China, will be flown into the PRC and marketed on Tmall.com. Tmall.com will also launch a promotion for a popular Italian brands already on the platform and introduce a dedicated country page to feature Italian goods.
Western companies have expanded their online offerings in recent years as a way to reach customers across China’s vast geography without opening more brick and mortar stores. Their online flagship stores and virtual stores on platforms like Tmall.com also serve as an important branding tool for the Chinese consumer. In April, British luxury brand Burberry became the first high-end brand to set-up shop on Tmall.com, offering online shoppers perks like 24-hour customer service and free returns and shipping.