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Online, offline shops will have to learn cooperation

By Wu Yiyao and Tang Zhihao in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-12 08:12

While shoppers are rushing into online stores around Nov 11, major physical retailers have begun in various ways to cope with the impact of online stores, trying to get rid of their awkward positions of being used just as product galleries and fitting rooms.

The strategy for physical stores to remain competitive is to put themselves online and join the fierce competition on Singles' Day.

The, a platform that includes department stores at Xujiahui, one of Shanghai's busiest commercial hubs, launched its first Nov 11 promotion this year, three years after it was established.

Zong Peng, a senior manager with, said he estimated that sales revenue on Nov 11 may be 30 times that of other single days of the year without giving detailed sales revenues.

Department stores in Xujiahui are reaching Chinese customers across all channels to maintain growth opportunities, said Sun Xiaohang, a 39-year-old.

"If you download smartphone applications or subscribe to the newsletter, the latest promotion information will be pushed to your phone or email account.

While the online store enables you to search and compare items easily, physical department stores enable potential customers to experience the product and have it right away upon payment without waiting for delivery," said Sun.

Chen Deming, former commerce minister and an expert in the retail business, said traditional physical retailers need to take advantage of people's shifting shopping habits. Little attention has been paid to how to transform and upgrade traditional retailing.

"Customers' demands have already decided that e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores will not fight to the bitter end. They will grow in cooperation," the former central government commerce official pointed out.

Many international brands joined the interaction between e-commerce and shopping malls around Singles' Day.

Apparel vendors such as Gap and Uniqlo set up special zones in their stores for discounted items on Nov 11. Japanese chain store Muji disseminated discount coupons in its physical stores to encourage online orders.

Some other brands have linked up with Tmall to launch lucky draws for those who visit their stores and post pictures on their micro blog accounts on the day.

Department stores such as Yintai Holdings Co are encouraging people to go to their shops to try out new products and then order online.

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