Chinese shoppers love luxury goods, this can be seen if you walk down London’s main shopping streets and take note of the number of Chinese holiday makers shopping with the country’s top retailers. Such is the demand that some will even accept Alipay, the Chinese default payment of choice and many retailers also offer a tax service to make reclaiming duty easy once at the airport ready to return home.
With their love of high end goods, it’s should be no surprise to learn that Alibaba have announced the launch of a new Luxury Pavilion on Tmall, that aims to bring the same brand exclusivity and tailored shopping experience that consumers would get in a brick-and-mortar store to the world of e-commerce.
Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion is strictly an invitation only platform, but already the likes of Burberry, Hugo Boss, La Mer, Maserati and Guerlain (LVMH) and Zenith have signed up to showcase their goods. They are part of what Alibaba said is the first of a multi-phase launch of the pavilion that will eventually offer a complete suite of marketing and omnichannel solutions.
Alibaba’s announcement comes at a time when Chinese consumers are increasingly buying luxury goods at home rather than traveling abroad, and they’re taking to the internet when they purchase. KPMG predicted that 50% of luxury brand sales in China will be made online by 2020.
The Luxury Pavilion will not operate as a standalone store front but it will be a tailored platform within Tmall and Taobao Marketplace with the aim to allow brands to deliver experiences and services typically reserved for shoppers offline. Those shoppers will enjoy personalized home pages, customized brand pages, product recommendations and exclusive VIP awards. The brands on the platform will be able to access the same tools to engage consumers that many of the brands selling through Tmall have put to use over the past year, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
There are encouraging signs coming from Alibaba that they are keen to enable commerce from the West to China. With a population of over 1.3 billion and at least 300 million in the young aspirational middle class it’s a market simply too big to ignore, albeit hitherto expensive and time consuming to tap into. The Luxury Pavilion maybe only open to invited brands, but Alibaba’s Gateway program is up and running to connect smaller retailers into the Alibaba ecosystem in partnership with experienced Chinese partners.