How AliExpress Tries To Become A Fashion Platform

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How AliExpress Tries To Become A Fashion Platform
How AliExpress Tries To Become A Fashion Platform

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From China with love

The global virtual trading platform AliExpress began operations in 2010 with the aim of selling Chinese goods to other countries, including Russia. The ideologist of its launch was Jack Ma, one of the richest people in the Middle Kingdom, who made a fortune on his company Alibaba Group. The group, in addition to AliExpress, includes retail and wholesale trading platforms such as Taobao, Tmall and Freshippo, operating within the PRC, as well as Lazada, Trendyol and Daraz, focused on exporting abroad. In addition, the Alibaba Group owns separate companies that handle logistics, shipping, payment, and merchant services, making its marketplace easier to operate.

As of November 2019, AliExpress was one of the most visited Internet platforms in Russia with a monthly number of unique users exceeding 24 million. According to SimilarWeb, over the same period, Runet users visited AliExpress almost 169.8 million times. while on Wildberries - 101 million times, on Ozon - 60.9 million times, and on "I take!" - joint marketplace of Yandex.Market and Sberbank - 16.28 million times (Wildberries clarifies that, according to statistics from SimilarWeb for September 2020, the number of visits to their website was 125.8 million, and the AliExpress website - 107.38 million).

The popularity of AliExpress in Russia is influenced, first of all, by a wide assortment: on the site you can buy smartphones and accessories for them (20% of the total range), consumer electronics and computers (20%), clothes (15%), household goods (10 %), as well as furniture, tools, auto parts and cosmetics. In addition, the interest in AliExpress on the part of Russian users is due to the democratic cost of the goods presented: according to statistics, more than 70% of all transactions are associated with purchases worth up to 1,000 rubles. As representatives of the site emphasize, in most cases these are goods from Chinese sellers.

Spring lookbook AliExpress Russia
Spring lookbook AliExpress Russia

Spring lookbook AliExpress Russia © press service

Orientation - fashion

In October 2019, the company underwent revolutionary changes: AliExpress Russia ceased to be wholly owned by Alibaba Group and transformed into a joint venture with four owners: Alibaba Group, Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The new management was faced with the task of localizing the company in the market, including by diluting Asian sellers with brands whose names are more familiar to the ear of Russian buyers. Since the beginning of 2020, AliExpress Russia has been joined by brands such as Puma, Decathlon, Love Republic, Crocs, Finn Flare, Tom Tailor and Pandora. At their expense, the company also wanted to increase the share of sales of goods in the fashion segment and change the perception of itself as a "platform with phone cases."

“In fact, clothes and accessories have always been on AliExpress, we just did not actively talk about them. But all over Russia there are many people who discovered this category on the site on their own. Our task is to make everyone else know about fashion on AliExpress,”confirms Sergey Grechin, vice president for special categories at AliExpress.

Original products from official brands are presented on the Tmall platform, which is integrated into the structure of the Russian website AliExpress and operates in the marketplace format. This means that she does not buy goods, but acts as a showcase where the seller independently manages the assortment and prices and communicates directly with the buyer.

Tmall platform on AliExpress
Tmall platform on AliExpress

Tmall platform on AliExpress © aliexpress.ru

Brands themselves see many benefits in this interaction. For example, Pandora Marketing Director Tatiana Volzinger says that cooperation with AliExpress Russia helped to "minimize barriers to access to jewelry and not leave girls without their favorite accessories" during the self-isolation regime, and Vasily Mishin, head of Puma e-commerce in Russia and Ukraine, notes that the site provided "an opportunity to reach an additional, fairly wide audience and satisfy its demand for high-quality original sports goods." At the same time, Mishin emphasizes the importance of the high requirements that Tmall places on the quality of customer service: compliance with them directly affects the seller's rating. One of them is related to the response to customer reviews: Tmall asks to be attentive to orders,do not ignore comments and provide prompt feedback.

Difficulty finding

AliExpress Russia is trying to shift its focus to fashionable clothes, but it is not clear from the structure of the site itself. The front page is replete with headlines about discounts on mop buckets, countdowns to expiration of WOW promo codes, promises to deliver orders in 3-10 days, and an ad for a shopping guide featuring toothbrushes. The search for original products from Crocs, Finn Flare and other global brands turns into an attraction in this context. The Tmall tab, which, upon request, gives out the assortment of interest, is at the top of the page, but at the same time it is barely noticeable. And if you search, for example, for a Pandora bracelet in the search box on the main page of AliExpress, the system will offer several options from the official seller and several from Cheap Fashion Outlet, CodeMonkey Factory Store and Pandora Store.The authenticity of the latest bracelets raises questions due to the several times reduced price. However, this does not bother many buyers: judging by the counter on the AliExpress Russia website, the Pandora bracelet is priced at 782–983 rubles. bought 800 times, while for 4190 rubles. - 14 times.

Although such a commodity neighborhood does not upset Pandora representatives either. “Each partner has its own business model, and we treat it with respect. Pandora has its own history, which is well known all over the world, and the brand's products are of high quality and detail, which is extremely important for our customers,”comments Tatiana Volzinger.

Homepage of AliExpress Russia
Homepage of AliExpress Russia

Home page of the site AliExpress Russia © aliexpress.ru

The problem of counterfeits

“If we talk about fakes, then we are close to the position of Jack Ma that this is a problem not only of our marketplace, but also of the entire retail and especially online retail,” the press service of AliExpress Russia explains. “Over the past few years, we have done a tremendous amount of work to strengthen anti-counterfeiting measures. The best results can only be achieved with customers and original brands. If you see a fake, then let us know. We immediately close these stores and block them without the possibility of return. For example, at the request of Nike, we removed dozens of sellers from the platform.”

An ambiguous assortment can be a problem if AliExpress wants to attract owners of premium brands to cooperation. This is what Yulia Nikitina, Managing Director of Marketing and Product for the Lamoda Internet site, with which AliExpress competes in clothing, footwear and accessories, says this. She emphasizes that fashion brands, especially in the premium and luxury segment, are wary of multi-brand online stores: they “will always be important about the image and history of the site on which they are presented, as well as the cleanliness and accuracy of the catalog”.

At the same time, Nikitin considers the very presence of AliExpress in the Russian market to be a big plus for e-commerce in terms of infrastructure development and a comfortable shopping environment. “When serious companies come in with investments, it's always good, because while offline occupies 85-90% of the main market, we all have something to work on. The potential for online development is huge now,”Yulia Nikitina comments.

Cooperation with Maxim Galkin

It seems that questions from people close to fashion can be caused not only by the difficult navigation and the proximity of original goods with copies, but also by the AliExpress Russia advertising campaign with the participation of Maxim Galkin, a hero who is hardly associated with the fashion industry. In August, the comedian and TV presenter became an ambassador of the site and, in particular, recorded a commercial for broadcast on federal channels. In it, he, in various images - from a mustachioed intellectual to a smart housewife - sings that he bought goods at Ali, and even with a discount coupon. The motive of his song is painfully familiar to every Russian: in the original, it is performed by the Moldovan group O-Zone, which could be considered an attack on the Russian Internet site with a similar name.

“When choosing an ambassador, we thought about the whole of Russia. Maxim is recognizable, charismatic, he has a great sense of humor. This is how we imagine our brand, - Grechin comments on cooperation with Galkin. “And for a more niche audience with a fashionable agenda, we have other heroes - for example, the vocalist of the SBPCh group, actress Evgenia Borzykh.”

Go offline

In September, Borzykh's photographs marked the launch of AliExpress Russia offline: the company opened a pop-up space on Petrovka, which combined a showcase of items presented on the site and a collection point for unwanted clothes, organized in conjunction with the Svalka project.

Temporary space AliExpress on Petrovka, 15
Temporary space AliExpress on Petrovka, 15

1 of 10 AliExpress temporary space on Petrovka, 15 © press service AliExpress temporary space on Petrovka, 15 © press service AliExpress temporary space on Petrovka, 15 © press service AliExpress temporary space on Petrovka, 15 © press service AliExpress temporary space at 15 Petrovka Street © press service AliExpress Temporary Space at 15 Petrovka Street © press service AliExpress Temporary Space at 15 Petrovka Street © press service

An advertising campaign with the participation of the SBPCh vocalist offered to collect an image in a pop-up for 5 thousand rubles, called for "to treat luxury easier" and argued that there was no difference in where to look for fashionable things. For this, according to Anastasia Zhbanova, Communications Director of AliExpress Russia, advertisements were deliberately placed on well-known shopping streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including across from the Central Department Store. Many considered such a campaign aggressive, especially considering that the billboard played on the abbreviation TSUM - "Central Universal Marketplace" instead of "Central Department Store".

Shot from the AliExpress Russia advertising campaign with Evgenia Borzykh
Shot from the AliExpress Russia advertising campaign with Evgenia Borzykh

Shot from the AliExpress Russia advertising campaign with Evgenia Borzykh © press service

“Obviously, this is not a protest against TSUM or any other respected stores. This is our appeal to the entire modern buying public as a whole, explains Grechin. - We say: "Yes, you can dress fashionably for 5 thousand rubles." For some, "fashionable" is three high-quality items of a basic wardrobe, for others - a shocking dress, perforated ankle boots and a lot of rings. Both can be found on AliExpress. Outrageous is not our goal, our goal is to attract attention and play on stereotypes both about our own platform and about the fashion industry as a whole."

Help from the best

The big names of the Russian fashion industry also help to attract the attention of AliExpress. For example, the creative studio of the publishing house Condé Nast, the director of fashion online media The Blueprint Svetlana Tanakina and photographer Yan Yugai, known for projects for Vogue and Flacon magazines, worked on the advertisement "Fashionable Image for 5000 rubles", and on the first lookbook "AliExpress Russia" Daniil Golovkin, the author of Tatler, GQ and Glamor covers, and Ksenia Berezovskaya, a former fashion editor at Elle, who came out in the spring and beat Russian and Chinese trends.

For the organization of the debut show in Russia, which took place on October 2 at the World Trade Center, AliExpress also turned to the strongest for help. The tender was won by the creative association Esthetic Joys, which is responsible for organizing Bosco Fresh Fest music festivals and WPU parties. As the artistic director of the team, Ilya Kusnirovich, son of the owner of Bosco di Ciliegi Mikhail Kusnirovich, says, he was attracted by the opportunity to do something cool with AliExpress in Russia, as well as the freedom of action that the company provided throughout the entire process.

The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center
The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center

1 of 9 First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Display of AliExpress Russia »At the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service service The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service

Wear Russian

The Esthetic Joys team not only made the entire show on a turnkey basis, from the set design to the selection of models, but also took responsibility for ensuring that clothes of interesting domestic brands appeared on the catwalk (and subsequently on the Internet site itself). Collaboration with Russian designers is another step for AliExpress towards localization in the market and shifting focus to the fashion segment. And perhaps the most important one: most of the company's initiatives are associated with our brands.

AliExpress lookbook with items of Russian designers
AliExpress lookbook with items of Russian designers

1 of 9 AliExpress Lookbook with items of Russian designers © Press service of the AliExpress Lookbook with items of Russian designers © Press service of AliExpress Lookbook with items of Russian designers © Press Service of AliExpress Lookbook with items of Russian designers © Press service of AliExpress Lookbook with items of Russian designers © press service

For example, in August, AliExpress Russia launched the sale of the collections of Varvara Zenina, Glove.me, Botrois, Vse Maiki, Forward, Kari and ICEbear on the website, filmed them in a special lookbook, and also told about the designers in the Instagram account, which on today has almost 1 million subscribers. In addition to the significant expansion of the audience, domestic brands celebrate the recognition of AliExpress on the world stage, the opportunity to sell things despite the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the proximity to unique brands. At the suggestion of Esthetic Joys, the selection of those expanded to Sintezia, Futureisnown, Outlaw Creative, Turbo Yulia Studio, Fusion, Kruzhok and Anton Lisin Russia, which took a direct part in the show, and presented on the site since October Roma Uvarov Design, Artem Shumov, Cocos, Affex, So Simple, Hediraiser, St. Friday Socks,Creepy Crawl, Victoria Andreyanova, FCEIGHT, Brevno, Husky wear and Exclaim.

However, there are problems with the representation here, as in the case of European and American manufacturers. At the show at the World Trade Center - perhaps one of the most ambitious that has ever been held in our country - items by Russian designers were side by side with items from Chinese brands Amii, EAM, Twotwinstyle and Li-Ning. It was impossible to determine by eye where Outlaw Creative clothes, where Anton Lisin Russia, and Twotwinstyle were (exits were not announced and catalogs with QR codes were not handed out), which now makes it difficult to find the item you like on AliExpress. There is no thematic section on the main page of the site, and a link to a special landing page on which things of domestic brands are sold can be found only in the notes of the media that published the lookbook of AliExpress's collaboration with designers.

The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center
The first display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center

1 of 15 First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Display of AliExpress Russia »At the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Office First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service service First display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service First display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service First display of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service First display of AliExpress Russia at CenterWorld Trade Center © Press Service First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Screening of AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © Press Service First Screening AliExpress Russia at the World Trade Center © press service

The main thing is convenience

However, all this does not become an obstacle to shopping. According to statistics provided by AliExpress Russia on October 5, interest in goods from Russian brands in the fashion segment in the third quarter of 2020 increased by 35% compared to the previous quarter. Nikita Shapovalov, co-founder of the L'Appart PR Moscow agency, which promotes the Brevno, Victoria Andreyanova and FCEIGHT brands cooperating with AliExpress Russia, attributes the company's success to the fact that it began the localization process on time.

“The pumping of social responsibility and conscious consumption in the minds of the mass consumer, as well as an objective and continuing decline in the incomes of the middle and even part of the upper class, create all the prerequisites for refusing to pay additional payments for marketing clothing and accessories (read - global luxury brands) in favor of environmentally friendly, authentic, non-mass, handmade and so on. And in this sense, the project and strategy of "AliExpress Russia", even if not trend-forming, are quite at the forefront of the behavioral tendencies of most target audiences, Nikita Shapovalov suggests. - Does this mean that as a result of the project, the site will become a "fashion retailer"? Of course no. It is only adapting to the market where it intends to acquire a monopoly position in its segment."

The lookbook of the AliExpress Russia collaboration with domestic designers
The lookbook of the AliExpress Russia collaboration with domestic designers

1 of 7 AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with Domestic Designers © Press Service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with Domestic Designers © Press Service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with Domestic Designers © Press Service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with Domestic Designers by designers © press service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with domestic designers © press service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with domestic designers © press service AliExpress Russia Collaboration Lookbook with domestic designers © press service

In terms of selling fashionable goods, AliExpress Russia competes not only with Lamoda, but also with Wildberries. The latter are less focused on attracting attention and more on improving site performance. For this, in 2018, Lamoda and Wildberries were included in the top five companies with the best mobile sites, selected by Google in conjunction with international UX agencies. Also among their main advantages are a high-quality selection of products, which, according to Google statistics, is important for 61% of users, and ease of search, which is noted by 53% of respondents. So, in addition to creating collections of virtual clothes and supporting folk crafts (yes, AliExpress Russia also has such projects), a company with Chinese roots should consider whether it is convenient for customers to use its website.After all, this is what ultimately helps to attract the target audience and helps to become a real player in the fashion market.>

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