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December 10, 2010

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Sitting comfortably? Let's shop!

EVERY day, among the 700 million searches on, more than 40 percent of results are related to living consumption, according to Cai Hu, general manager of e-commerce business at the largest Chinese search engine. Recently, the company has launched, an e-commerce website targeting Chinese office workers aged between 25 and 34, together with Shanghai-based Qiming Venture Partners and Daphne, China's leading women's shoes manufacturer.

The website sells all kinds of lifestyle products ranging from clothes and shoes to cosmetics and home decor pieces. Most of the brands it carries are popular fashion/lifestyle brands among young people, such as H&M, Zara and Esprit, and they are sold at lower prices (up to 40 percent off) compared with the original retail prices. Promotional events are organized on a regular basis, too.

All the products are delivered to the consumers free of charge - or, they can also choose to collect their orders in 130 Daphne stores around the city.

"The e-commerce business in China has just started to boom," Cai said. "Shopping online has become a trend with more and more young people thanks to its convenience and unlimited choices."

When American-Chinese Jeff Wang launched, a high-end fashion e-tailer two years ago, the concept of shopping for luxury goods online was not widely accepted by Chinese people. However, in two years, he has witnessed the rapid growth of the business. Today, the website has more than 200,000 registered users, while the number is growing at an average rate of 10 percent every month.

On, people can find the latest goods - or even exclusive limited edition pieces - from luxury houses such as Chanel, Fendi and Prada. They are sold at least 20 percent cheaper than they are in branded name stores.

"Our business model helps to save both the rental and labor costs, allowing us to sell our products at more attractive prices," Wang explained.

Most of Meici's customers are female office workers aged between 27 and 35. "Many of them are busy career women who don't have enough time to go shopping," he said. "They tend to make orders while working in the office."

According to him, orders from second-tier cities actually account for a large amount (nearly 50 percent) of Meici's business. "Compared with customers from big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, people from second-tier cities don't have much choice in terms of luxury shopping in their home towns," he said.

On December 1, YOOX Group, the world's leading internet retailer, announced its strategy in China, which includes powering the online flagship stores of leading fashion houses as well as launching its own online multi-brand boutique,, in the second half of 2011.

Emporio Armani's online store,, which opened on November 26, is the first to be "powered by YOOX Group" in China. More mono-brand online destinations will be launched starting from next year., on the other hand, will bring to China a selection of men's and women's clothing, shoes and accessories from leading luxury brands and cutting-edge designers. It will feature a series of "mini-stores," in which designers showcase their latest creations alongside multi-media content such as fashion shoots, videos and short films, enabling shoppers to fully experience the designers' world and inspirations.

In the press release, YOOX Group announced that it expects China to become one of its top three single markets in the next five years.

Wang Ting, founder of, a local fashion community website, said that as the competition is getting furious, it is important for an e-commerce website to distinguish itself from the others with methods such as offering unique products that are not available elsewhere.

"As far as I'm concerned, most Chinese netizens still tend to shop on (the leading Chinese online auction and shopping website), where you can find hundreds of thousands of similar products," she said. "The only difference is the price - thus the competition can turn white-hot." runs a subsidiary website,, which sells clothes and accessories from less mainstream brands at more affordable prices. These days, Wang and her team are working on introducing more vintage pieces and vintage style-inspired clothes to the customers.

"We hope to attract a certain group of people - both home and abroad - who are very much into vintage styles, who are not affected by the fashion trends but know exactly what they want," she said.


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