Alibaba returned fire in the online war for global brands in China.
Answering JD.com’s recent push to highlight U.S. brands, Alibaba Group said it’s partnered with more than 160 brands from 100-plus apparel chains to help grow their presence in China, including Uniqlo, Gap, Adidas, Zara, Timberland, Massimo Dutti and Bershka.
Alibaba said it will work with brands on product launches, digital marketing campaigns and online to offline programs. Of these companies, 20 brands — including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Decathlon, Timberland, Pull&Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius — will sell exclusively with Tmall.com, becoming the only third-party sales platform to carry them.
“Alibaba is a partner to our merchants, providing holistic retailing solutions that go above and beyond being a sales channel,” said Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group. “We want to enable brands to better connect with consumers with the help of our database of consumer insights and robust data analytics capabilities.”
The e-commerce giant will use its arsenal of consumer data — drawn from 350 million annual active shoppers and a gross merchandise volume, or GMV, of $394 billion — to help these brands target the Chinese customer. During the first quarter of the year, there were more than 140,000 brands on Tmall.com, which sold goods with a GMV of more than $35 billion. The partnership will also give this group of brands access to Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer marketplace Taobao and group shopping platform Juhuasuan.
Alibaba’s competitor JD.com opened a U.S. mall for its Chinese consumers last month to help bring global brands to an engaged Chinese consumer. In an attempt to put the authenticity of its product front and center, JD.com works directly with brands to ensure that there are no fakes on its site. Converse and Samsonite are among the brands that will be sold on JD.com, and it will serve as the exclusive destination for Taylor Swift’s new fashion line, designed specifically for the Chinese market.
Apparel is the dominate category on Alibaba’s Tmall.com from a sales perspective, and is what the company described as “the most mature and sophisticated” in its relationships with retailers and brands.
“The apparel category has traditionally been challenging for marketplace platforms because of the wide range of nonstandardized product and constantly changing product range, but Tmall has been a platform partner where apparel brands have long found sustainable success,” said a spokeswoman for Alibaba.