Tmall.com, Alibaba Group’s market-leading B2C online marketplace, has officially launched a flash sales channel for luxury brands, capitalizing on a strategic investment the e-commerce giant made last year in China’s top flash sales platform for high-end products.
The Tmall channel, which was soft launched about three months ago, is being managed by Mei.com, which since 2010 has operated a popular China website that provides a flash sales outlet for nearly 300 well-known international luxury brands including Armani, Zegna, Michael Kors, Longchamp and Tumi through exclusive partnerships.
Alibaba last July invested an undisclosed amount in Mei.com, saying the site’s relationships with a wide range of affordable luxury goods merchants would complement Tmall’s roster of high-end retailers such as Burberry, Coach and Hugo Boss, which have Tmall flagship stores.
The new flash sales channel gives Tmall.com shoppers direct access to discounted luxury goods from more than 3,000 retailers and authorized distributors, boosting Tmall’s selection of quality products—something Alibaba officials have said is of strategic importance as Chinese consumers become more sophisticated and demanding.
“The launch of the channel will further the variety of brands on Tmall and offer China’s burgeoning middle class a one-stop shopping platform for quality goods and service,” said Alibaba Group Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung.
Once a top destination for luxury brands, the China market has become more challenging in the past couple of years as the country’s economic slowdown and a government crackdown on corruption dented sales growth of expensive items. After largely resisting e-commerce as an unpalatable sales channel that diluted “high-touch” customer relationships nurtured in brick-and-mortar shops, an increasing number of luxury brands have been ramping up their digital initiatives and opting for more flexible pricing to attract customers.
By leveraging Alibaba’s network of shopping sites, including existing daily deals platform Juhuasuan, luxury brands can access some 400 million China consumers, among them “eight million quality customers … who spend more than RMB 4,000 ($US 619) every month on Tmall,” Tung said.
Alibaba and Mei.com yesterday staged a fashion show in Shanghai to mark the official launch of a flash sales channel on Tmall’s mobile app.