How Online and Offline Commerce Blend in China

If you want to be successful in the B2C business in China, you have to be innovative and understand how to do business in e-commerce, otherwise you will lose out to major competitors. This applies in particular to companies from the U.S. or Europe, who wish to conquer the Asian and Chinese markets.

How Online and Offline Commerce Blend in China

An excellent example of this is the sports sector. The sporting goods market in China is an exciting business segment for sports and lifestyle brands, especially thanks to the growing middle class there.

Western brands are very popular with Chinese customers. Anyone who skillfully combines online and offline offers has very good growth opportunities. The cooperation between Tmall and ISPO shows how this can work in practice: At ISPO Shanghai, Chinese and international brands such as Fjällräven, Lafuma, Jack Wolfskin and Phenix presented their latest collections in the context of the ISPO and Tmall Fashion Show. Interest of spectators on site at the fairgrounds for the models was enormous. The fashion show was simultaneously broadcast live online at the ISPO Shop on the Tmall platform. A total of 340,000 spectators watched the models on the catwalk via live stream.

Tmall is part of the Alibaba Group and is the dominant shopping platform in the Chinese e-commerce market with a market share of 57 percent in 2017 (source: Statista). According to Intersport International, the volume of merchandise at Tmall for sporting goods is worth around USD 19 billion a year.

The Tmall website does not offer individual products. Instead, the brands operate so-called online monobrand stores. So the platform does not function like a single department store, but rather like a major store with numerous flagship stores. These shops can be individually customized. The companies not only use the platform to showcase their products, but also to post texts, pictures, tutorials and videos there. Similar to Facebook, potential buyers can follow the companies and get shown new content of the brands.

But ISPO and Tmall Fashion Show went one step further. Tmall was not only used as a broadcast channel: the garments of the models could also be purchased directly from Tmall. In total, the broadcast on China's most important online shopping platform gained around 3.4 million likes within two days.