China Expected To Be Biggest Luxury E-Commerce Market By 2015
Following recent entrants to China’s fast-growing — yet crowded and largely untested — e-commerce market, among them Ferragamo, Zara, J. Crew, and Yoox, American “affordable luxury” brand Coach is set to launch its long-discussed e-commerce site in China by the end of the year. First announced this past winter to be rolled out “within the next 18 months,” Coach is building the new site in-house, rather than pairing with a Chinese or international multi-brand online retailer.
This move, quite possibly, has been influenced by lessons learned from Coach’s one-month-long “pop-up” last December on Alibaba’s Tmall. A success, attention-wise, yet something of a commercial flop, Coach’s short-lived Tmall store racked up some 3.5 million hits over its four-week run yet generated disappointing sales.
However, as Coach China President and CEO Jonathan Seliger said in an interview yesterday, the brand seems to have learned a thing or two since last year. Said Seliger, “We have succeeded in raising the visibility of the brand [in China] and have accumulated valuable experience in the field of e-commerce in China, including pricing strategies and how best to display items.”
Though Coach has been relatively quiet in China this year, the company’s expansion hasn’t skipped a beat. Over the course of this year, Coach will have opened around 30 new stores in the Greater China region, with at least half of them in the Mainland, adding to the 80 regional and 65 mainland China locations the brand operated by the end of 2011. Since buying back its retail businesses in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China in 2008 and 2009, Coach has seen sales climb rapidly, from US$108 million in 2010 to $188 million last year. In 2012, the company is shooting for sales of “at least” $300 million. By 2014, Coach expects China to be its leading market.
Aside from the company’s brick-and-mortar expansion — which has spread to inland cities like Nanning and Urumqi — Coach has also looked to appeal to younger shoppers in China and regionally this year by signing popular actor and singer Wang Leehom as the face of its men’s accessories line, and collaborating with Chinese graffiti artist Zhang Lan on a limited edition year of the dragon collection and Weibo campaign.