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UNIQLO forays into China's e-commerce fashion market
Apr '09
Taobao, China's largest consumer e-commerce company, and UNIQLO, a new-style casual wear brand under Japan's leading apparel retail group Fast Retailing Co Ltd announced a strategic partnership to launch the online sales business of UNIQLO's casual wear products in China. The partnership will serve as an important step for the Japanese retailer, which had 21 offline stores in China by mid-2008 but limited online presence locally, to make inroads into the growing online Chinese consumer market.

Under the partnership, UNIQLO will set up a virtual flagship store on Taobao's online marketplace, which had almost 100 million registered users as of December 31, 2008. To further facilitate UNIQLO's online sales push in China, Taobao will also draw on its Internet technologies, resources and experience to help UNIQLO construct a separate retail website – the first time for Taobao to power an external website for a partner company.

This website and UNIQLO's Taobao store will share the same product database, and members of Taobao can shop on the UNIQLO website without having to register a new user ID. Through Taobao, UNIQLO will be able to obtain accurate, first-hand data about the consumption pattern of China's young consumers, and design products that would better cater to the local market.

“We are excited about the prospect of growing China's online fashion market through a partnership with world-leading casual wear brand UNIQLO. UNIQLO's decision to join the lineup of global companies already operating an online store on Taobao underscores the continued and growing strength of online retailing in China, as nearly 100 million people have elected to purchase goods, such as apparel, via the Internet rather than through traditional brick-and-mortar retail,” said Jonathan Lu, president of Taobao.

“UNIQLO's decision to foray into China's e-commerce market was based on the huge potential of the Chinese online consumer base. With over RMB100 billion (approximately USD14.6 billion) of annual transaction volume and more than 100 million registered users, Taobao is a clear leader in Asia's Internet retail market and a partner of choice for our China market push. In the coming future, we will focus on raising our brand awareness in China by leveraging Taobao's huge consumer community,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing, who is also founder of UNIQLO.

According to “Chinese Apparel Brands and Online Apparel Shopping Study 2009” conducted by China IntelliConsulting, apparel is the most popular online shopping category in China and was the highest transaction amount in 2008. Almost 60% of the online shoppers studied had experience in purchasing apparel items online, and apparel contributes to about one fourth of the total online shopping transaction volume in China.

iResearch data show that about half of the online shoppers in China are aged 23 to 32, and they are the most fashion-conscious section of the population. The joint online retail initiative by UNIQLO and Taobao fills the market need by making low-cost, high-quality and fashionable casual wear more accessible to these young online shoppers.


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