As foreign luxury e-commerce sites continue to battle for supremacy in China, luxury flash sale site Gilt has now made a major commitment to the Chinese market with the introduction of Chinese online payment method Alipay and several additional new services for China customers.
The U.S. company recently announced that it will now allow Chinese customers to pay through their existing accounts on Alipay, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Paypal-like electronic payment system.
“As China’s most widely used e-payment service provider, Alipay focuses on enabling commerce between global brands and Chinese consumers,” states Jingming Li, the president and chief architect of Alipay United States. “We are excited to partner with Gilt to help connect our consumers with the products and brands they desire. China’s e-commerce market could be worth as much as $650 billion in 2020, and we see this as a great opportunity for global sites, like Gilt, that offer top-quality products and a premium shopping experience.”
Although it originally offered shipping to China, Gilt is now dramatically stepping up its efforts to reach Chinese consumers as the country’s online luxury market remains one of many players with no clear front-runner. In addition to the addition of Alipay, the site is introducing Chinese translations, Chinese-speaking customer service representatives, and $9.95 flat-rate shipping for orders over $100.
“We are constantly striving to improve our members’ shopping experience,” says Marshall Porter, the SVP and GM of International at Gilt.com. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Alipay and allow our Chinese members an easier way to shop.”
With a flash sale model, Gilt is competing with numerous Chinese and foreign full-price and discount luxury e-commerce sites in China. Its most direct competitor is luxury flash sales e-tailer Glamour Sales, which has already been active in the China market. As China’s middle class continues to expand, additional price-conscious business models for luxury e-commerce are entering the market, and investors believe they have big potential. For example, Chinese secondhand luxury site Secoo received a $100 million round of funding for its consignment sales.
Full-price competitors include Chinese sites such as ShangPin as well as foreign online boutiques such as Yoox and Net-a-Porter. While there’s no major market leader yet, it’s clear that high-end e-tailers across the world are eager to get into China as quickly as possible in order to compete with the early movers.