An Alibaba spokeswoman confirmed to TNW that the Tmall store is an official Apple store, but declined to share further details on the company’s collaboration with Apple.
It should be no surprise that Apple is exploring new ways to reach consumers directly in China — after all, it seems to be making a big push for more sales in the world’s largest smartphone market this year, especially after finally inking a deal in December last year for the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile, to carry the iPhone.
Apple also follows in another international tech giant’s footsteps — Microsoft. In March last year, Microsoft beefed up its presence on Tmall with a new flagship store run by a dedicated team in China, and which aimed to mix offers and promotions, with sales of the company’s local catalogue.
Apple already has a flagship online store that it operates, but the Tmall store is another channel to reach potential customers — and it also looks like the company could go on a similar route as Microsoft to deepen localization with specific offers and promotions. Already, Apple has just announced plans for a one-day “Red Friday” sale across Asia to mark the upcoming Chinese New Year period.
Apple will also likely benefit from Alibaba’s famed shopping festivals. During the 11.11 Shopping Festival last year — China’s answer to America’s Cyber Monday shopping bonanza — consumers spent a whopping CNY35.01 billion ($5.7 billion) in just 24 hours on Alibaba’s shopping sites.
Apple’s Tmall store is also likely borne out of efforts by Alibaba, which made a significant play for Western companies this year after it launched an English-language microsite for Tmall. This comes at a time that the company is said to be considering a public listing — although CEO Jonathan Lu has said that the location of the IPO is still to be decided.
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