In July, two Italian luxury retailing sites, Raffaello-Network and Forzieri, partnered with China’s largest third party online payment platform, Alipay, to extend their reach for online customers in China.
Chinese consumers can visit the newly launched websites, which are in Chinese, and choose items ranging from the latest Chanel sunglasses to Le Perla’s underwear, or boutique European brands including Orlando Orlandini and Nicoli.
All priced in Renminbi, with a wide range of online payment options including Chinese-friendly Alipay, PayPal and Western Union, the two Italian online retailers are determined to tap into the potentially huge online shopping market in China. In Spring, their Tokyo-based rival Glamour-Sales.com opened an office in Shanghai, underscoring the growing importance of the Chinese market.
According to a report issued last week by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China’s online population reached 420 million at the end of June, about 36 million more than those reported last December. China’s online population is twice as large as the U.S. While Internet-based business is growing rapidly in China with a reported 140 million people shopping online or 10% of China’s population. It’s only about a third of the current online population, so the growth potential is enormous.
Online shopping is highly favored in Asia, with South Korean and Chinese leading the trend, according to the latest report by the research company Nielsen. Specifically, about 59% of South Korean and 49% of Chinese would spend over 11% of their salary purchasing online, compared to an average of 27% of people in other parts of the world.
Luxury companies, which have long resisted opening online stores in order to preserve their brand prestige and maintain good relationships with high-end retailers, are now gradually changing their strategy.
In September, fans of Marc Jacobs can check out the latest news on the company at marcjacobs.com as well as purchase cool items directly from the website.
Marc Jacobs is not the first to open an online store among its high-end peers. Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo and La Perla have all established their sophisticated online shops when the global financial crisis impacted their businesses with luxury department stores such as Saks and Neiman Marcus.
More luxury companies will open online stores in the near future as the compelling demographic trends outweigh their concerns.