In a concerted push to convince more premium brands to join B2C e-commerce site Tmall, online retail behemoth Alibaba is courting both companies and the governments of countries famous for luxury goods. After a recent deal with France, the company has now moved onto Italy in hopes that labels such as Gucci and Prada may someday open their own official online shops on the site.
According to a report today in Women’s Wear Daily, the company has just signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development stating that Alibaba will help Italian companies set up shop on Tmall and its other online platforms. According to the terms of the agreement, Alibaba will provide express enrollment, promotional and marketing support to Italian brands, and a tailored Tmall marketing campaign to mark the start of the new agreement. Alibaba also said that it will collaborate with Italian brands on B2B platform Alibaba.com, online payment system Alipay, and logistics company China Smart Logistics.
This is not the first deal Alibaba has inked with a country known for its luxury brands. In May, the company signed a similar three-year MOU with France offering the same terms to French brands and launched a one-week “Elegance of France” campaign on Tmall. Prestigious French brands listed on Tmall include Lacoste and several beauty brands such as Clarins and L’Oreal.
Thanks to its recent U.S. IPO announcement, Alibaba has been trying to pursue a more upscale image court foreign investors. Aside from British brand Burberry’s bold move to set up shop on discount-oriented Tmall, other foreign luxury brands have been reluctant to follow suit in fears of diluting their upscale image.
Alibaba has been trying to allay these concerns by announcing recently that it will be expediting its process of fighting counterfeits on its e-commerce platforms including both Tmall and C2C Taobao. Last year, the company signed a deal with LVMH to hold back the barrage of fakes on its sites, and a recent report by L2 Think Tank found that since Burberry’s listing on Tmall, all “gray market” Burberry items have been pulled from the site.
Alibaba has been investing in additional luxury-related foreign sites. Yesterday, it launched U.S. online marketplace 11 Main, and has also invested in Shoprunner, a site that functions as a more upscale version of Tmall, and vintage luxury site 1stdibs.