Tmall‘s fashion and luxury division has partnered with Alibaba-owned mall operator Intime on a new brick-and-mortar consumer-services center in Hangzhou.
The center offers smartphone and watch repairs, dry cleaning, footwear and jewelry, and clothing alteration services. Users can check rates and pre-book the services online using Alibaba’s Tmall or mobile Taobao app and track the status of their order until it is ready for pickup, Alizila reported.
The opening of Tmall Wuyougo, or Tmall Carefree Shopping Service Center in English, marks the latest in a series of so-called New Retail initiatives by Alibaba that aim merge online and offline shopping experiences.
New Retail, a phrase coined by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, is the “the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain.” E-commerce retailers like Tmall have disrupted China’s retail ecosystem by putting Ma’s concept into action. The trends that have emerged pave the way for retailers worldwide to profit from the digital economy.
The decision to open a brick-and mortar operation stands in stark contrast to retail trends in the west, where malls and shopping centers are dying in droves. U.S. retail giants including Walmart, Westfield, Macy’s and Toys R Us, as well as the UK’s Marks and Spencer, have been forced to close physical locations as consumers increasingly favor online shopping.
The center marks the latest in a series of New Retail initiatives by Alibaba that aim merge online and offline shopping experiences.
“We want to solve some of the core problems shoppers encounter, such as the services they need being too scattered or [operations] lacking in transparency,” said Liu Yandi, head of Tmall’s shopping experience division. The goal is to provide customers a “worry-free,” standardized experience, she said, with everything they need in one place.
The services offered by the Tmall center are gaining popularity as Chinese consumers’ purchasing power continues to increase, according to David Ye, head of Tmall Fashion and Luxury’s customer operations unit. “Demand for good after-sales service in fashion and footwear is also growing,” he said.
Tmall said it planned to launch a “At Your Door” option in the near future, which would give consumers the option of pickup and delivery rather than dropping items off at the store.
“We want to solve some of the core problems shoppers encounter, such as the services they need being too scattered or [operations] lacking in transparency,” said Liu Yandi, head of Tmall’s shopping experience division.
The service center will eventually expand to all of Intime’s branches nationwide, about 50 in total, by the end of this year, as well as independent storefronts in residential and commercial neighborhoods, according to Alizila. Partnerships with other retailers, such as home-improvement supplies and furniture chain Easyhome, are also being discussed. (Alibaba owns a 15% stake in Easyhome.)
Separately, Tmall said it would deepen its collaboration with Intime by integrating their respective loyalty clubs, including targeted membership benefits and marketing strategies.