Alipay, the mobile payment arm of Internet giant Alibaba, is now offering Chinese consumers a convenient way to shop online in the United States.
Alipay ePass is a new suite of three products designed to bridge the American and Chinese online markets: ePass payments, logistics, and marketing. ePass payments allow Chinese consumers to complete payments on Alipay, while logistics allows for fast and convenient shipping from the United States to China, via ePass’s shipping partner China Smart Logistics. The marketing component of the package helps American retailers target Chinese shoppers locally. ePass partners can sign up for any combination of the three products, or all three at once.
Though ePass payments has drawn comparisons to Apple Pay and Paypal, Alipay’s package is unique because it specifically targets Chinese consumers, as Jingming Li, Alipay’s U.S. president and chief architect, explained in a recent interview with Women’s Wear Daily.
“There is a great synergy between Apple Pay and Alipay. We could work very well together, just like how Apple works with MasterCard,” Li said. “[But] this is about China and the Chinese consumers. That is what we’re focusing on.”
Alipay ePass could prove hugely lucrative for American retailers, as China’s e-commerce market is considerable and continues to grow rapidly. According to iResearch, the number of Chinese online consumers grew to 302 million in 2013, up 25 percent. McKinsey’s estimates are even higher: the firm reported 632 million online shoppers in China as of June, and believes that the e-commerce market could be worth between $420 billion and $650 billion by 2020.
What’s more, Chinese consumers are showing an increased interest in purchasing products from overseas online. Media investment company Group M reports that Chinese consumers spent $33 billion on foreign websites in 2013.
A study by Alipay recently found that 80 percent of cross-border online shoppers already use non-Chinese websites. National holidays like Single’s Day (the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday) also provide huge sales opportunities for American brands; Alibaba reported sales of $5.8 billion on the holiday last year.
Alipay ePass expected to facilitate transactions between Chinese consumers and US brands by offering security and helping with “cumbersome shipping, tax and customs process.”
“It will significantly lower the barriers [of cross-border commerce] for both sides and bring certainties into this uncertain industry of cross-border trade,” Li said. “That’s the fundamental thing: To make it easy for both sides.”
image credit: flickr/david feng