Business / Technology

No need for Chinese to fly to Seoul for shopping

By Meng Jing in Seoul (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-07 07:34

No need for Chinese to fly to Seoul for shopping

China's online giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd hosts its first overseas fashion show with South Korean partners in Seoul in September to demonstrate its globalization ambitions. The group plans to bring more overseas products to online shoppers.[Provided to China Daily]

Arch-rivals and Alibaba have big plans to get South Korean firms listed on their sites

It's no secret in Seoul when Chinese shoppers are in town.

High streets in the capital of South Korea erupt in October and fill the air with Putonghua chatter from salespeople, while hawkers madly wave Chinese-language fliers about the latest sales.

Chinese tourists taking advantage of the Oct 1 National Day break bring the big crowds, but other times of the year are busy too.

That can be seen by the overall numbers of Chinese visitors at 6.1 million last year, making them the top inbound travellers to South Korea, according to the Beijing-based China Tourism Academy.

E-commerce giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Inc have taken notice too. They are both aiming to convince South Korean firms to list products on their sites, so the cross-border dash to shop till you drop becomes a stampede of clicks on the computer screen.

Beijing-based reported that nearly 100 South Korean companies in March set up stores on its platform, leading to a jump in that sales category of more than 10 times by August.

"Brands from South Korea had transactions of over 10 billion yuan ($1.56 billion) on in 2014. The number is expected to exceed 50 billion yuan in the next three years," the company said.

Not to be left behind, Alibaba's Zhang Jianfeng said cross-border e-commerce is a priority and products from South Korea play a key role.

"There are a lot of cultural similarities between China and South Korea. With the rising popularity of South Korea soap operas in China, fashionable products, such as clothes and cosmetic, are a great deal in China, especially among young people," said Zhang, who holds the post of president and is in charge of the retail business unit.

Zhang led a team to visit Seoul in September to attract more fashion-related brands to Alibaba's online shopping platforms and the group's widely used mobile Taobao application, which has more than 100 million visits daily.

"No matter if you are well-known brands, or up and coming designer labels, you can reach your target buyers via our online channels," he told South Korean vendors.

Alibaba said apparel is hot based on just two metrics.

One showed the term "clothes and accessories worn by South Korean actress Kong Hyo-jin" was searched for 2 million times per month on Taobao in the past year. The other big item was "Korean purchasing agent" that saw 430,000 searches in the same period.

To get the attention of more South Korean brands, Alibaba hosted its first overseas fashion shows in Seoul in September, inviting partners Samsung C&T Corp and Eland among others, to showcase apparel about to enter the Chinese market.

"We had two brands on Tmall in 2013, now we have 20 brands. You can see how good the market is from these figures," Lee Kyou Chang, head of Eland Group's global e-commerce business unit, said.

Samsung C&T, which already has three flagship stores for its clothes labels Beanpole, Rapido and Mvio on Tmall, said they want to make China its "second domestic market" and will debut brand 8 Seconds here in 2016.

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