When 26-year-old Bai Yunwen decided to buy an iPod last year, she turned to popular online Chinese retail site Taobao.com to hire an agent who could purchase the iPod abroad — where it wasn't subject to China's luxury taxes — and ship it to her directly. The price: about $100, where it would have cost her more than $115 if she'd gone to a local retailer in Beijing. "It was easy and it saved money," she said. "Why wouldn't I do it?"
For savvy young buyers like Bai, online shopping has emerged as a major outlet for their spending. A recent report by the China Internet Network Information Center revealed that last year, Chinese Internet users have increased 73 million from 2006 to more than 210 million, nearly 50 percent of which were between the ages of 18 and 30. And, about 22 percent of online users — or around 46 million — reported having made an online purchase in the last six months, according to the report.
"People are still clinging to the notion that online shopping is not taking off in China, due to things like low credit card penetration and lack of security for shoppers," said Kaiser Kuo, director of digital strategy for Ogilvy China. "In reality, it's booming."
China's large pool of low-cost labor has meant that the cash-on-delivery system is still very much utilized for online shopping in China. This gives customers increased comfort knowing they can have their purchases hand-delivered and check them out in person before handing over payment, according to Kuo. In addition, Internet shopping has surged in second- and third-tier cities where brand selection is still very limited.
"Online retail channels for items like cosmetics and fashion are huge in these markets because they just don't have the selection to choose from in local stores," Kuo notes. "In addition, many shoppers are using online shopping to buy brands not yet available in China or to save money on items that are available for much less in foreign markets."
The undisputed leader in Chinese online shopping sites is Taobao.com — often referred to as "the eBay of China." It reported a whopping 156 percent growth in the amount of its retail transactions in 2007 to $5.9 billion and an increase to 53 million users. The site offers traditional auction options, like eBay, but also has flourished with virtual storefronts that offer set prices as well as shopping services such as agents, who can take requests for specific items, purchase them overseas and have them delivered to shoppers.So far, many foreign brands have largely ignored China's online retail options, but that might need to change, especially in order to connect with youth consumers. "This generation is really wired," noted Allison Luong of Pearl Research. "Online activity is a significant portion of their lives."
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion