Alibaba, lenders team up for SME financing

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd teamed up with seven banks on Tuesday, jointly offering loans of up to 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) to China’s small and medium-sized enterprises as the e-commerce conglomerate looks to further build a credit rating system based on online transaction histories.

The cooperation involves Bank of China Ltd, China Construction Bank Corp, Ping An Bank Co Ltd, China Merchants Bank Co Ltd, Bank of Shanghai Co Ltd, Postal Savings Bank of China Co Ltd and Industrial Bank Co Ltd.

According to the Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant, companies that had export transactions of more than $100,000 through Alibaba’s online platforms over the past six months can apply for such loans. They can get 1 yuan worth of bank credit for every $1 in exports.

The online transaction record is the only thing required for the loan.

Wu Minzhi, vice-president of Alibaba Group, said that about 89 percent of SMEs in China find it difficult to get loans because they can not satisfy banks’ requirements.

“As an e-commerce company with lots of transaction data on our platforms, we want to make it easy for all of the export-focused companies to do business,” Wu said.

By narrowing the credit gap between SMEs and banks, Alibaba is looking at the bigger picture of building an environment based on big data that can facilitate every aspect of trade, from information to data and logistics, he said.

Wei Qiang, general manager of Shenzhen One Touch Business Services Co Ltd, Alibaba’s export service subsidiary, said that more than half of the export-focused companies are expected to move their brick-and-mortar trade business to online platforms in the next 10 years.

“That will create a trade service market that is estimated to be as big as 10 trillion yuan,” he said.

As they cope with rising production costs in China, many Chinese exporters are keen to get financing services. He Guodong, manager of Shenzhen Xingjisheng Electronics Co Ltd, said he secured a loan of 5 million yuan from China Construction Bank through the financing service offered by Alibaba.

“My company had an export volume of 260 million yuan in 2013. In the past, banks rarely lent to us, because they didn’t trust the financial data we offered,” he said. He said transaction records provided by Alibaba are very convincing, as it acts as the third party for such transactions.

Li Ye, an analyst at the Internet consultancy Analysys International, said traditional banks can actually benefit from the financing service provided by Alibaba.

“The costs for banks to do due diligence in order to grant loans to SMEs are very high. There are so many SMEs and the amounts they want to borrow aren’t much compared with big enterprises. So big data can be used as an important way for banks to control credit risks without making heavy investments,” she said.

Tmall.com, the business-to-consumer platform owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, rolled out a financing service on Wednesday to help car purchasers in China get unsecured loans of up to 60,000 yuan ($9,606).

The new service underscored the Hangzhou-based e-commerce conglomerate’s strong ambition to conquer a new sector – the online car market.

Tmall has gained fame mainly through the sales of clothes and shoes online.

“China is the world’s largest car market with a total sales of more than 20 million units last year. The number of cars sold through online platforms is quite small compared with the giant size of the market,” said Wang Licheng, a senior executive of Tmall, which allows brands to sell directly to customers.

Vehicle shoppers can apply for interest-free loans that allow them to pay off their balances over as long as 18 months, depending on their shopping records and creditworthiness on Tmall and Taobao, Alibaba’s online marketplace.

Participating automakers include Shanghai General Motors, which operates Tmall.com flagship stores for the Chevrolet and Buickbrands,andSAICMotorCorpLtd,formerlyShanghaiAutomotiveIndustryCorp.

The program is the latest move by Alibaba to leverage its strengths in data and finance to tap into new markets. On Tuesday, Alibaba introduced a program that provides loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in China.

The car loan program is run by the Small and Micro Financial Services Group, a company spun out of Alibaba Group that includes Alipay. It operates the popular Yu’ebao money market fund. Rather than funding the loans itself, Small and Micro Financial Services acts as an intermediary to verify the creditworthiness of loan applicants.

During a promotion from July 25 to Aug 11 last year, 17 vehicle brands with Tmall.com storefronts sold 3,400 cars valued at 80 million yuan through the website.

However, most of the online vehicle transactions do not really qualify as pure e-commerce, because the buyers generally make down payments online, then go to physical locations to make the remaining payments, said Pan Wei, analyst with the Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International.

There are many online platforms that aim to build automobile e-commerce “empires”, but most merely serve as online media outlets that feed vehicle-related information to potential buyers, said Pan.

Autohome Inc, a leading online portal for vehicle information, formed a strategic partnership with JD.com, Alibaba’s largest competitor in China, in June to develop automobile e-commerce and to facilitate real transactions online.

Pan said that Alibaba enjoys a strong advantage in automobile e-commerce as it has integrated financing service on its online platform.

“But the move doesn’t guarantee a promising future as most people still aren’t used to buying high-priced items such as cars online,” he said, adding that it will take a lot of time for consumers to form this habit and for online retailers to create new methods to increase user loyalty.

The New Buzzword for Wealthy Chinese – Balance

China luxury lifestyle

As the Chinese become more affluent, they are seeking new ways to find balance and enjoyment in their lives.

The need to balance their personal and professional lives is of great concern to China’s young professionals. Sixty-three percent of Chinese surveyed by CNRS said that their lives were “getting really busy” and 44 percent worried that they weren’t taking care of themselves well enough because of their busy lives. Furthermore, nearly 22 percent of China’s total population said that they believed in separating their work and leisure. All of this balance anxiety has led to an uptick in the buzz volume of “Balanced Life” on Chinese microblogs, a 42,275 percent increase between 2011 and 2013.

According to WPP’s 2014 China Consumption Trends study, the hectic modern world is driving many Chinese consumers to exercise, cultivate healthier eating habits, and worry about their carbon footprint. Cars like the new Range Rover Sport, which consumes 22 percent less fuel than its earlier model and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent, are growing in popularity.

“People are buying the concept of a balanced lifestyle,” the study says. “As the Chinese population becomes more affluent, they face ever growing pressures, from competition at work to food scandals and pollution.”

The “Rainbow Clan” lifestyle is also gaining traction in China. This concept refers to a group of people who scrupulously maintain their work-life balance; they “have a healthy diet, do physical exercises regularly, get enough sleep and work with high efficiency.” Items on the online shopping platform Tmall are now being branded for Rainbow Clan members.

China’s growing affluence has also led to the emergence of a foodie culture in China. According to data from CNRS and CIC, 56 percent of Chinese consumers like to try new foods (an increase of 9 percent between 2011 and 2012) and 41 percent of consumers “label themselves as culinary lovers.”

Technology is playing a key role in China’s culinary boom. Popular competitive cooking shows like Master Chef, an overseas sensation that DRAGON TV has reedited for China, have fed Chinese enthusiasm for cuisine, and series like A Bite of China and One City Has Its Own Flavor showcase food across the country. Cookbook and restaurant apps have also spiked in popularity, and make it easier for consumers to prepare meals or pick a good place to eat.

5 Sites Chinese Consumers Spend the Most Time On

digital internet China

One of the findings from the newly released BCG report on Chinese consumers is that they visit very few websites despite spending a lot of time online.

The Chinese online landscape has become increasingly crowded and knowing where these consumers are spending their time is important.

BCG found that most of the respondents spend 50 to 80 percent of their time online making repeat visits to a few websites that are their personal favorites. According to BCG research, ”more than 40 percent of their collective online activities were spent on the following top five sites: Youku, a local video-streaming website; Sina.com, a news portal; QQ, an instant messaging service; Taobao, an e-commerce site; and Baidu, a search engine.”

Here are some details on these top five sites:

Site Type Online Activity
Sina News portal website 40 million IP visitors daily
QQ News portal website 51 million IP visitor daily
Baidu Search Engine over 80 million IP visitors daily
Taobao and Tmall Online mall and C2C ecommerce over 67 million IP visitors daily (combined); over 1 trillion RMB sales in 2012
Youku and Tudou (companies merged) video sharing and viewing including TV shows youku: over 10 million IP visitors daily tudou:over 1.26 million IP visitors daily
source: danwei

Online shopping sees surge in consumer complaints

Online shopping sees surge in consumer complaints

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-15 15:34

BEIJING — Consumer complaints in China have surged along with a boom in online shopping as many in the country turn to the convenience of computers or mobile phones to make purchases.

Latest data from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) showed that consumer complaints about Internet shopping experiences totaled around 17,000 in 2013, marking a rise of 60 percent.

Their complaints were mainly about discrepancies between product quality and what was advertised as well as counterfeits. Slow after-sales service and long repair and delivery times also aroused complaints, according to the SAIC.

It said the rise in complaints showed consumer rights violations in China are still a pronounced problem. However, it also suggested that Chinese consumers are increasingly aware of their interests and will report to authorities if their interests and rights are infringed upon.

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba reported over one trillion yuan ($163 billion) in transactions over its two popular online shopping services, Taobao and TMALL, back in 2012. On Nov. 11, 2013, unofficially celebrated as “Single’s Day” in China, total transactions on the two platforms exceeded 35 billion yuan.

Why E-Commerce Is Growing Faster in China Than Anywhere Else in the World 夏威夷房地产 – 美国夏威夷豪宅

china ecommerce digital

Retailers in China are racing to expand in an e-commerce sector that is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, including the United States.

What’s driving this speedy development? In the late 1980s, China began its transition to a market economy, giving its state-run retailers little time to acquire marketing skills before the Internet began to dominate consumer consciousness a decade later.

“In the U.S., where retailing has long been an established industry for more than 100 years, e-commerce is the icing on the cake. But in China, where retailing as a market is still relatively new, online retailing is the cake,” Export Now CEO Frank Lavin explained in an interview with Internet Retailer. Lavin’s company assists foreign companies in selling their products online in China.

Various analysts have described the competition in the now booming market as “ferociously competitive,” “cutthroat,” and “a street fight,” as e-retailers increasingly resort to price cuts to nab sales, even at the cost of losing profits. And according to Teresa Lam, an e-commerce analyst and vice president at Fung Business Intelligence Centre, it is only expected to intensify.

“Most Chinese online retailers seek to grasp market share by adopting a low-price strategy despite low or even negative profit margins, and this has led to unhealthy market competition,” Lam said. “We expect price wars to continue to break out and amplify in 2014.”

To keep up with the race, companies are making fast delivery a priority, building fulfillment centers so that shoppers can acquire their purchases sooner. They are also offering a wider selection of products, with many “inviting other merchants to sell on their sites so that they can better compete with the giant Taobao and Tmall marketplaces.” Businesses are also rethinking web design, adding attractive new features to their websites and finding new ways to grab consumer attention. A focused marketing plan has also proven profitable for companies like VIP Holdings Ltd., the No. 8 e-retailer on Internet Retailer’s China 500 list.

The Guangzhou-based VIP is a publicly traded online apparel retailer whose success rests on “offering consumers name-brand clothing, focusing on profitability and building a bigger e-commerce base,” according to Donghao Yang, the company’s chief financial officer. VIP has managed its marketing costs more efficiently by using social media to attract new consumers, and has also focused on negotiating more reasonable deals with suppliers.

Although expansion is important, a large part of the company’s success can be attributed to catering to a niche market. Fifty-five percent of VIP’s core demographic — women aged 20 to 40 — live outside of tier-one cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, in areas where access to the latest fashions is often limited. While other online retailers target urbanites, VIP has made a considerable profit in offering exclusive items to shoppers in smaller cities and rural areas, increasing its brand offerings from 410 in 2010 to over 3,000 in 2013. To increase shipping speed and efficiency for its customers, VIP also plans to spend $200 million over the next three years to build new distribution centers. The company’s order volume continues to grow, having increased by over 10 million orders shipped per quarter since 2010.

All of these measures have proven more than successful for VIP, which reported its first-ever profits last year. The company reported a net income of $12 million on revenue of $383.7 million for the third quarter ended September 30, 2013, compared with a $1.45 million net loss on sales of $155.94 million a year earlier.

“We have increased our profitability,” Donghao says. “We are better at controlling costs and achieving operating efficiency.”