International luxury brands are increasingly partnering with shopping deal websites aimed at Chinese audiences, in part as a way of participating in China’s Singles’ Day and Double 12 shopping festivals.
While there are concerns over whether deal sites are a good fit for luxury brands, the jaw-dropping sales such events engender—coupled with the success of Dealmoon’s partnership with high-end retailers including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom—demonstrates that Chinese consumers are less conflicted.
The following deals sites are popular among big-spending overseas and domestic Chinese looking for bargains in luxury fashion, premium sporting goods and tech.
Founded in 2009, American-based Dealmoon is one of the first shopping deal sharing sites to target overseas Chinese consumers. In less than five years, the site has gathered millions of followers across dozens of social media accounts. The site and its mobile application attracted over 100 billion visits in 2016 alone, and the merchants it partners with have increased from 20 in the first year to over 250 as of 2016.
Dealmoon initially targeted Chinese living in the United States but has now built subsidiaries in Canada, Australia, Britain and elsewhere. Each of these sites operates as a deals aggregator where consumers can find location-based promotions on a variety of goods and services, including jewelry and accessories, makeup and skincare, personal health, maternal and childcare products, sports, travel and more. While the site started as a dirt-cheap discounts-focused platform, luxury items are now more prominent, including promotions for high-end brands such as La Mer, Kate Spade and Miu Miu.
2. DealAM.com (找丢网)
Founded in 2009, DealAM is another site that mainly focuses on Chinese-American audiences. It offers deals in categories such as electronics, apparel, skincare and others from over 3,000 merchants, according to its website. The site’s design places especial emphasis on personal health and finance (such as credit card offers), deals on Amazon, and event-based promotions such as “North America’s Double 12”.
The site also manages more than 10 accounts on Sina Weibo and WeChat, two of China’s most popular social media platforms. Unlike many other shopping deals sites where promotions on various categories of goods are aggregated on one site, DealAM has designated different social media accounts to share content and deals on different categories of goods. For example, the Weibo account DealAM Beauty presents more images and videos alongside its makeup and skincare deals, while Huaji Xiaolaba is run more like a personal blog, with an editor who shares trending restaurants and lifestyle products.
3. SMZDM.com (什么值得买)
As cross-border shopping becomes more accessible and convenient, a growing number of domestic Chinese consumers are also visiting sites that offer promotions for non-Chinese shopping events such as Black Friday. Launched in 2011, SMZDM, literally “what’s worth buying”, is a Beijing-based website that provides deals from both domestic and international retailers and brands, but aimed primarily at mainland Chinese consumers.
While many of its deals are from domestic e-commerce platforms including JD.com and NetEast’s Koala, the site has designated pages featuring promotions on international shopping events and deals found on international sites like Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp.
Since its primary target audience is domestic Chinese consumers, under each deal or recommended item, the site lists “tips for cross-border shopping” such as whether the merchant accepts Union Pay, Alipay, has Chinese consumer support, provides direct shipping to China, and the like.
Like most Chinese shopping-related websites, SMZDM is built as a one-stop-shop that not only posts promotions and allows users to socialize with one another, but also runs its own daigou channel that helps users purchase and ship items from overseas retailers and brands. Users actively share their shopping experiences and reviews of products in text, photos and even videos.
4. Shihuo (识货)
Shihuo, which loosely means “spot the best product”, is a shopping guide, review and deal site launched by Hupu Sport in 2012. Being a sports-oriented news and blog platform since 2004, Hupu focuses on Chinese men; fewer than 4 percent of its regular visitors are female. Shihuo, as its subsidiary, has inherited these features from Hupu and built a sports-oriented, male-focused deals sharing platform that differentiates itself from many other female-oriented shopping sites in China.
The majority of deals on Shihuo are for basketball and football shoes and equipment, running shoes, fitness gadgets, and apparel from brands such as Timberland, CAT and NBA-teams. As it grows, the site has included more content on electronic devices, home decoration, and watches. An outstanding feature of Shihuo is that it provides detailed evidence-based recommendations of what to buy—a professional review of SONY headphones, for instance, or a list of gift ideas for users’ girlfriends.
5. Knew One
Knew One is a technology and design-focused deals and networking site based in Shenzhen, home to some of China’s most valuable tech firms. Compared to similar sites, Knew One is a more close-knit community where members share their interests in small niche items such as artsy British-imported mugs, startup-designed headphones, and high-tech drones. TOM FORD, SKII, Chanel, Dior and LAMY are also frequently featured on its product recommendation page. People with similar interests can form or join groups that focus on particular types of products, allowing them to share their own shopping experiences and find reviews in a time-saving fashion.
Knew One’s main goal is to introduce the very best goods, regardless of their price. A chair from Herman Miller Aeron that costs over $1,000 or a HHKB Pro 2 keyword that sells for over $200 have appeared in their newsletters. Similarly, Knew One’s target audience is not average online shoppers but high-income people or geeks in the Internet and high-tech industries that want and are financially capable to be the innovators or early adopters of new products.
Knew One also has its own iOS application called Less. Instead of simply migrating content from its website, Knew One has built Less to be a photo-heavy networking app that provides users with different photo editing filters when they want to write and share reviews of certain products.