MILAN — Tod’s chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle believes that being fast is key to succeed in the Chinese market, which he discussed during an interview that ran on Alibaba’s corporate blog Alizila.
“In China, people are very quick to decide, and expect you to act fast, too. Adapting to the speed of China’s market was essential, and it served to improve our efficiency around the world,” said the Italian entrepreneur, who was among the first among his colleagues back in 2017 to team up with Alibaba opening a Tod’s flagship on Tmall, the Chinese platform counting around 900 million active consumers.
“At the beginning, there were some reservations among our people: maybe yes, maybe no. The feeling was we should treat the product delicately and it should not be too widespread,” said Della Valle referring to his decision of selling on Tmall. “I just called some people I know in China, people with significant purchasing power, and I asked them if they would buy on Tmall. ‘Why not? We buy a lot of stuff on Tmall as it is important for us to have that thing we want at home as soon as possible.’”
During the first half of 2021, Tod’s saw its revenues jumping in Greater China. Sales increased 110.2 percent to 156.2 million euros in the six months to June. Revenues were up 43.5 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
Tod’s operates a retail network of 80 directly owned stores in China, but increasing budgets are being invested to engage consumers online.
“The tool par excellence in the future will be e-commerce. Over the last year, e-commerce has been used more because of the great world tragedy but also because it is more practical,” Della Valle said. “Since young people are often a little shier, it [e-commerce] also brings us a younger clientele who have a few things sent to their home.”
And if today Della Valle still sees some differences between Chinese and European consumers, they will progressively tend to blur in the near future, he thinks. “Attitudes are merging with new generations, we could see in a few years that they will be absolutely very similar,” he said.