ShangPin Launches TopShop

Shangpin, the Beijing, China-based online multi-brand fashion retailer, will officially launch TOPSHOP on Sept. 26, adding another well-known Western brand to its large portfolio that serves more than 5 million Chinese customers. As part of the launch event in Beijing, customers will be able to try on apparel and order it online by scanning it with their mobile devices.

The launch comes at a time when young Chinese millennials are hungry for authentic Western brands, and when Western brands are eager to claim a share of the enormous and emerging Chinese middle class.

ShangPin, which launched in 2012 with brands such as Diane von Furstenberg and DKNY, is the only player in the online multi-retailer space exclusively devoted to contemporary fashion and design, says Claire Chung, vice president of international business development, who adds that the new millennial Chinese customers are much more interested in fashion and style than their parents, who primarily were  focused on luxury labels. 

The "only child consumer" has disposable income, is spending money and cares about branding, about being in season and on trend, she says, adding that "they are mixing high and low brands. …They want to be fashionistas."
"This is very different from the older generation buying Louis Vuitton or Gucci bags, shoes, not buying clothes. The new generation knows much more … and they want to express themselves through style," Chung adds. These consumers in their 20s and 30s are following fashion and celebrity bloggers, using social media to shape their tastes and to express themselves. They are much more interested in style, and want access to "real brands," not knockoffs on TaoBao, she says, adding that "everyone works hard, and they want to reward themselves."

While sites such as Alibaba sell just about everything, and other online sites that sell apparel are focused on discounts, ShangPin, which sells in 400 cities across China, is the only online site truly focused on fashion, says Chung. When it first launched, business came primarily from major tier 1 and tier 2 cities, but now 47 percent of its business comes from tier 3 and tier 4 cities, she says. Everywhere, Chinese consumers want to be fashionable. "We sold the runway looks [we featured] into smaller cities, and even in Tibet. [Although these brands are not available to them in their cities,] we can reach them through the internet."

The brand has also seen a major shift to mobile since launching its own mobile app last year, with 40 percent of sales now transacted via mobile devices, on its app as well as its mobile commerce platform on WeChat. All brands it works with will be on mobile, says Chung.

ShangPin offers a full slate of services to its retail customers, from marketing and merchandising to managing online sales and fulfillment – and it also helps brands navigate the social media landscape to drive sales and develop and share content across platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, and QQ. Later this year, Shangpin will launch a style area featuring 1,000 "looks" each month on behalf of its brand partners, compiled and curated daily by its editorial team and available to share via social media.

"China has 150 cities with more than 1 million people. It's huge. If you're a brand and want to open up shop in China, it's impossible. You can't open one store in Shanghai. No one will know you're there. Some brands have to go online first to gain brand awareness and understand the market before opening anything on the ground," says Chung.

"From an apparel point of view, the time is right now. Now is the moment for brands to enter China," says Chung. "We're going to be part of bringing the best brands to this new generation."

Jordan K. Speer is editor in chief of Apparel. She can be reached at [email protected].

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