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Online retail mogul talks success

By Tiffany Tan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-10 07:17:47

Online retail mogul talks success

Last year, Yoox reported delivering some 2.8 million orders in more than 100 countries, including China. The Chinese mainland is now one of its most important markets, where the average value of customer orders surpasses those in the United States and Japan - the world's other top luxury markets.

In fact, the most expensive item ever sold in the company's history was purchased by a Chinese shopper from Zhejiang province in 2013, according to in-house research. The product was a Dolce & Gabbana women's leather jacket that was priced at nearly 150,000 yuan ($24,000) on Yoox.cn.

Besides creating Chinese versions of some of its online stores, Yoox has strengthened its China business through localization strategies, like providing e-mail and phone customer support in Chinese and collaborating with local designers, celebrities and TV shows.

It also set up a domestic logistics center from which all Chinese orders are shipped, and introduced a "butler service", enabling customers to try on purchases while a courier waits to see if the person wishes to return any items.

Yoox, which entered the Chinese market in 2010, is well-placed as the world's most populous nation becomes increasingly connected to the Web. China had 618 million Internet users by the end of 2013, 302 million of which shopped online, according to the latest data from the China Internet Network Information Center. Of the country's 500 million mobile Internet users, 81 percent use their smartphones to go online.

Yoox began working on its mobile platform in 2006, and this autumn plans to launch its newest mobile and tablet app for Yoox.com, which Marchetti hopes will be "revolutionary". The company also takes care of creating apps for its mono-brand stores.

"From a retailing point of view, that's what we believe is gonna change the landscape," says Marchetti, who in 2012 received Italy's Leonardo Award for Innovation.

At the end of 2013, Yoox saw at least 5 million store visitors, or 40 percent of the group's traffic, coming through smartphones.

Despite the explosion of e-commerce worldwide, some luxury labels continue to hold out on selling online, believing the move will tarnish their image of exclusivity. Yoox's CEO says he respects that. But he adds that there should be no half-measures when it comes to doing online retail.

"It's better not to do it than doing something wrong," Marchetti says. "But I don't respect the things in the middle. Because many luxury brands, they say they don't believe in the Internet, but they sell like crazy in e-commerce through other counterparts."

Marchetti may be one of today's online retail gurus, but when he started few believed in his entrepreneurial vision. He also knows a bit about swimming against the tide.

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