Alipay targets retailers with new services
Updated: 2014-10-17 13:10
By Lian Zi in San Francisco and Meng Jing in Beijing(China Daily USA)
Alipay, China's largest e-payment provider, has launched ePass, a new e-tool that allows US merchants to sell and deliver products directly to individual Chinese consumers without translating their website or setting up warehouses in China.
Alipay ePass combines payment, logistics and marketing support for their partner US retailers. It offers fast, reasonably priced shipping and door-to-door delivery in China through the China Smart Logistics (Cainiao) Network, while providing retailers access to Chinese online advertising network Alimama to help raise their brand awareness in China, according to Alipay.
Through ePass, US and European merchants are able to give Chinese consumers who are comfortable with shopping online in English a way to purchase goods directly from retailers' existing, stand-alone e-commerce websites in their home markets, said Li Jingming, president and chief architect of Alipay US.
"We are trying to make it easy for Western merchants to reach Chinese consumers without going into China," Li said.
Unlike Tmall Global, which brings actual products to China for Chinese consumers, ePass brings the Western online shopping experience to Chinese customers, said Li.
Shoppers are able to pay in renminbi through Alipay, which processed almost half of the nation's $887.7 billion in online payments last year, and check the shipping information of their orders through Alipay Wallet, the app of Alipay with 190 million active users.
According to Alipay, customers who purchase on US online stores through ePass should pay for the shipping fee and necessary taxes.
Epass doesn't only provide customers a way to save money, but also offers more purchasing choices in the international market, according Alipay.
Current Alipay ePass merchants include global brands in the apparel, travel and transport, baby care, cosmetic and health product industries, such as Gilt, iHerb.com, Airbnb, Revolve, ASOS and Uber.
"The ePass could only be a payment option for Uber in China in this primary stage, but not in other countries," according to Alipay.
Alipay wants to continue its business expansion in the US market by "collaborating with more global-minded companies and brands," according to Alipay.
"Chinese consumers are increasingly shopping internationallyover the Internet," Li said.
According to a recent Alibaba Group survey of Chinese cross-border shoppers, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they had used international websites in a language other than Chinese.About 40 percent said they could navigate these foreign websites independently without translation aids.
Many Chinese consumers right now are using online purchasing agents to buy products from foreign websites but can't track their shipping information clearly, Li said.
"We bring in that certainty," Li said, adding that by purchasing overseas with Alipay Wallet, consumers receive shipping information including estimates of when their orders will arrive.
Analysts said that the ePass service is in line with Alibaba's globalization strategy and is expected to be popular with both retailers and consumers.
Investors were expecting Alibaba's two main online shopping platforms - Taobao and Tmall - to be launched in the West to rival eBay and Amazon.
"But it seems that Alibaba's globalization strategy is to connect the world to China's online retail market," said Neil Flynn, head equity analyst at Shanghai-based Chineseinvestors.com, a financial analysis firm of US-listed Chinese companies.
In the West, most shops now accommodate UnionPay cards as most Chinese customers use it as their only source for making payments. But it is frustrating for retailers, as payment transactions often involve a lengthy process, unlike other Western systems, said Flynn.
"This creates an opportunity for Alibaba, because if they can create a payment system that can process transactions much quicker than UnionPay, then it will become popular with customers and retailers," he said.
China's online shopping industry has grown exponentially and continues to do so. With the growing demand for overseas products and Western brands, Li from Alipay US said cross-border e-commerce "is already a $40 billion business".
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(China Daily USA 10/17/2014 page2)