This week in the news, take a look inside China’s billionaires’ club, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and three other U.S. retailers are now available to Chinese online shoppers, new trends in luxury shopping malls are emerging, countries are lowering their visa requirements for Chinese tourists, and China’s Singles Day has set new records for Alibaba.
The China Entrepreneur Club is a Beijing-based organization that consists of 46 of China’s leading business people, as well as advisers like academics and politicians. The club counts several billionaires among its ranks, including Alibaba head Jack Ma, property tycoon Wang Jianlin, and Guo Guangchang, who has drawn comparisons to Warren Buffet. The club’s members all hail from different industries, so competition among entrepreneurs is not a concern. The group has been active since 2006, and holds events regularly. Members of the club also take international trips to introduce themselves to world leaders interested in learning more about China’s entrepreneurial enterprises.
Five U.S. retailers – Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Ann Taylor, and Aéropostale – can now reach consumers in China with their existing e-commerce platforms with the help of Borderfree’s technology and China’s leading e-payment provider Alipay. In a pilot program with the five U.S. retailers, Borderfree is offering Alipay ePass throughout the holiday season as an option at checkout. Demand for U.S. brands is growing, but language, cultural, and payment barriers have limited U.S. retailers’ access to China’s online consumers. Borderfree’s technology is making access possible by facilitating the shopping experience through the use of Mandarin in promotions, pricing, and marketing messages.
With estimates of 300 new malls opened in China each year, mall operators are looking for new ways to fill them with shoppers. For well-heeled customers, mall operators are looking to create a shopping experience through social media integration and digital smartphone valets that alert customers to their favorite brands and customize the shopping experience. Other stores are hiring personal concierge stylists that will shop for customers as they relax with a drink. For the jet-set crowd, some luxury malls are installing private airstrips and customs desks. Another way malls are attracting customers is through experiential luxury, such as cooking with a celebrity chef or training with a professional athlete.
In 2012, China became the largest tourism source market in the world. Last year alone, Chinese tourists spent $129 billion on foreign travel. By 2027, the country is expected to to have exceeded the United States as the world’s biggest travel and tourism economy. The boom is encouraging countries all over the world to make travel easier for tourists from China. Forty-nine countries and regions across the globe now have visa-free or “visa-on-arrival policies” for Chinese travelers. Time-consuming application procedures, the strict requirements for obtaining visas, and exorbitant fees were the top three visa-related issues outbound tourists from China face.
Singles Day shoppers in China are spending more than ever before. After only 60 minutes, Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao had already tallied sales of $2 billion (RMB 12.3 billion). Last year, Alibaba brought in $5.8 billion in 24 hours, and just over 1 billion in the first hour of discounts. China’s other e-commerce sites, such as JD.com and Amazon China, also offered discounts for the holiday, but sales figures are unavailable. Amazon has stepped up its Singles Day offerings this year by offering international shipping, which will allow Chinese customers to buy goods off Amazon’s U.S., German, French, Spanish, and Italian stores and have the items shipped directly to China.
image source: npr