SHANGHAI — Costco Wholesale Corp. is tapping into China’s vast consumer market without any brick-and-mortar stores.
The American retailer said it would open an online flagship store on Tmall Global, an online shopping platform operated by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
Costco’s online store is to feature food and healthcare products as well as products from the membership-only warehouse club’s private-label Kirkland Signature brand, the companies said.
Tmall Global, an extension of Tmall.com, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer platform, allows overseas brands with no China business licenses to market and sell products on the mainland. Orders can be fulfilled and shipped from outside of China and orders settled in the preferred currency of the retailer.
Costco is not the first retailer to enter China without brick-and-mortar operations. Last month, British fashion company Topshop officially launched its China operations on Shangpin.com, an online fashion and luxury site.
Costco executive vice president Jim Murphy said the retailer sees huge potential in China due to consumer demand for imported products. Alibaba is to explore new business models for Costco by also connecting the brand with its massive consumer-to-consumer site, Taobao.com, as well as its group buying platform, Juhuasuan.com.