Alibaba’s Tmall has been pulling out all the stops to attract luxury and premium beauty brands to open official e-storefronts, but it has a new message for brands already selling online through the e-commerce platform: don’t forget their physical stores.
That was a key focus of Alibaba’s recent promotions for China’s largest e-commerce festival Singles’ Day. On November 11, Tmall teamed up with brand partners including Maybelline and Clarins to host mall pop-ups and smart stores with scannable QR codes, magic mirrors, mobile games, and smart fitting rooms. The promotions were part of an effort to showcase Alibaba’s omnichannel New Retail initiative, which involves big investments in brick-and-mortar retailers in order to partner up on inventory management, logistics, and data.
L2’s Insight: China Omnichannel report finds that brands have also been using their Tmall shops to drive physical store foot traffic through promotions, store locators, and appointment bookings. For example, jeweler Chow Tai Fook incorporates a store locator map into all its Tmall product pages, as well as details on in-store after sales service in order to put customers at ease about purchasing a piece of jewelry online. Meanwhile, La Mer’s Tmall loyalty program connects with its customers offline by letting them redeem their points for in-store spa services. Consumers considering purchasing a Citizen watch can use the brand’s O2O section on Tmall to book a store appointment in case they get cold feet about using an e-tailer to invest in a timepiece.
While brands can use these omnichannel features to facilitate store visits, customer loyalty, and conversions, Alibaba benefits from access to data on offline purchase behavior. As the lines between online and offline shopping become increasingly blurred in China, the e-tailer is working to translate its e-commerce market power into influence in the brick-and-mortar space.