Given that China’s e-commerce market is booming — with a report noting that Chinese netizens will collectively spend an estimated $296 billion in the whole of 2013 compared with US e-shoppers who will spend $252 billion — and 60 percent of ASOS sales come from outside the UK, the online fashion store’s move into the country is a natural step to take.
ASOS Chief Information Officer Pete Marsden said that China is a primary driver of growth within the Asia-Pacific region, and is therefore a market in which the company wants to be a major player. New statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center show that the population of online shoppers in the country stands at around 271 million as of June 2013, up 11.9 percent from December 2012.
However, due to the difficulty of entering the Chinese market, ASOS has elected to work with a third-party platform provider. Marsden explains:
We needed a proven and robust omni-channel platform that can support our new e-commerce business and the rapid growth and high traffic numbers that we’re expecting due to the size of the Chinese market. We also required one that would allow us to collaborate with local, native-speaking implementation partners who are familiar with the cultural, technical, legal, political and governmental issues in China to help facilitate the development process.
ASOS will be working with Hybris’ partner ecosystem in the region. The platform provider basically offers an enterprise-grade commerce suite for all channels, including the Web and mobile, for companies to sell more goods, services and digital content.
ASOS’ strategic tie-up with Hybris marks its nascent push into China — a country where e-commerce has been dominated by Alibaba, which has 24,000 employees, is estimated to be worth $40 billion and surpassed Amazon and eBay combined in terms of sales volume last year. Alibaba’s two biggest businesses are: a virtual “mall” for brands Tmall and eBay-like Taobao marketplace.
It is little wonder that ASOS is keen to anchor its presence in more markets — though it has not revealed further details on the timeline of its launch in China. The fashion e-commerce scene has been heating up recently, with German incubator Rocket Internet especially active. Rocket Internet-backed Lamoda, a fashion-focused e-commerce site in Russia, raised $130 million last month, and in May Zalora, another site backed by the incubator, raised $100 million.
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