Two big tech platforms at the intersection of e-commerce and fashion are building a bridge across the Pacific, looking to unlock access to the Chinese market.
“Commerce is global, and we’re giving merchants, of any size, the tools to show up wherever their customers are,” Shopify said in a statement revealing the partnership.
“With a population of 1.4 billion, China is home to the world’s largest e-commerce market, estimated to be worth $3.3 trillion by 2025 — that’s more than five times larger than the U.S. e-commerce market,” the company said, citing figures from GlobalData and Statista.
While both Shopify and JD.com facilitate sales in a broad range of categories, fashion is key to both — and China is key to fashion.
“China has often remained inaccessible to independent businesses and upstart entrepreneurs abroad,” Shopify said. “Regulatory and logistical barriers, as well as complexities related to pricing, duties and translations, can be daunting to deal with for all but the largest of brands.”
The partnership will help U.S. brands that use Shopify get started in China in as little as three weeks with JD offering end-to-end fulfillment. The partnership also offers price conversion to local currency, translation services and more.
The potential of the Chinese consumers has been plain for years (and JD has a good chunk of that market with 550 million active customers).
Chinese consumers have been rapidly evolving, embracing e-commerce big time and fueling the rush in luxury goods in recent years.
But selling into China has also been complicated lately by Beijing’s crackdown on big tech with the government taking a more active stance in pushing changes at major businesses in the country, including JD’s chief rival, e-commerce leader Alibaba.
Clearly businesses are pushing ahead and not waiting for the politics to sort themselves out.
The new connection between JD and Shopify illustrations the importance of platforms and partnerships in the consumer industry and fashion.
Shopify offers a soup-to-nuts turnkey approach to e-commerce, helping brands and small entrepreneurs connect with shoppers and jump in and start selling and marketing on the web very quickly. And now, the partnership JD extends that to China.
Shira Sue Carmi, chief executive officer of Altuzarra, the namesake label of fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra, said the brand would make good use of the partnership.
“Given Joseph’s Chinese heritage and the great momentum we are seeing with our business overall, we see tremendous opportunity for Altuzarra in mainland China and are thrilled to be able to explore it easily and seamlessly through Shopify’s new JD Marketplace channel,” Carmi said.
Aaron Brown, vice president at Shopify, added: “Bringing together two world-class commerce platforms — Shopify and JD.com — is a major step in solving cross-border commerce for merchants. The future of commerce is commerce everywhere — and that starts by removing barriers to entry to one of the most important e-commerce markets in the world.”
Still fashion is finicky and competitive.
Farfetch — a more luxury fashion-focused competitor of Shopify — took a $397 million investment from JD in 2017. But the connection never really took as hoped and Farfetch jumped ship to reached and even more far-reaching deal with Alibaba that also included Compagnie Financière Richemont.
That tees up a wider contest between fashion’s East-West collaborations.
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