4 things you should know about Taobao's first store in SEA [VIDEO]

Alibaba's social commerce platform Taobao has unveiled its first concept store in Southeast, together with local business partner Virmall. The new store is situated at Singapore's Funan mall. This follows the success of a Taobao Home pop-up and an extended showcase at the multi-label concept store NomadX last year.

1. A taste of Taobao’s large inventory

The store has about 300 Taobao items specially curated for Singapore shoppers, from furniture to household items, textiles and fashion, among others. About 80% of the items are from the home and living category, which is the fastest growing product category in Singapore on Taobao, according to the press statement.

During the launch, Charlene Zhang, Taobao's business development lead, Singapore, said Alibaba is always looking for ways to improve the shopping experience online and offline. She added that having the items offline allows consumers to sample products before making a purchase. "This is especially helpful for higher priced items and is also one of the reasons why most of the items in this store are furniture," Zhang explained.

2. Furniture items from popular Taobao merchants

Most of the furniture items are from Jiyoujia (极有家), Taobao’s home and living channel, and popular merchants including Linsy (林氏木业). Additionally, consumers will also find other familiar brands throughout the store such as Xiaomi and Little Bear. "We will also be introducing new brands, good Chinese brands and interesting products throughout our Taobao store," Zhang added.

In an interview with Marketing, Zhang said Taobao will be promoting the store through its app and social media channels including Facebook and Instagram. She added that the new store is 10 times the size of its pop-up store at NomadX. When asked if Taobao plans to open more of such stores across Singapore, Zhang said the company plans to focus on the outlet at Funan for now.

Meanwhile, Sky Chen, general manager for Virmall, said during the launch that the company is a local partner for Alibaba and helps bring products from Taobao's top merchants into Singapore. Virmall also offers additional support for deliveries and customer services.

"We will keep investing money in this store, not only for renovation and inventories. It's not only about the monetary value [invested into this store], but also the effort that we put in, such as new technology solutions," Chen said. He declined to comment on the monetary investment for the new Taobao concept store.

3. Purchase with QR codes

At the store, shoppers are able to purchase products by scanning the QR codes with the Taobao app. Upon doing so, they will get to choose from a selection of colours, designs and product sizes and make payment all within the Taobao app.

4. Visualise your furniture with VR

Also, an interactive digital mock-up allows shoppers to choose specific furniture pieces and visualise how the options will look like in a certain space, providing shoppers with greater ease of mind. The digital model can be ported into the VR programme to help shoppers “see” how a piece of furniture can fit physically and aesthetically within a room even better.

Certain items can be picked up from the store directly, while ready stocks of larger furniture pieces will allow shoppers to receive their items as quickly as two to three days after purchase. Shoppers can also enjoy the convenience of picking up online orders from the Taobao Store.

An integrated sales campaign combining online and offline promotions will also be held at the store, beginning with the upcoming 99 Mega Sales which will take place from 9 to 10 September.

"This is the first time we are having online and offline sales promotions. So, 9.9 is just a taste of what will happen during 11.11. During 9.9, we will have flash deals, an instant win lucky draw. We are also giving away return vouchers," Taobao's Zhang told Marketing.

Meanwhile, Chris Chong, managing director, retail at CapitaLand Singapore said the company is pleased to welcome the first Taobao Store in Southeast Asia to Funan, which is in line with its vision for Funan as a social retail platform where retailers are encouraged to break new ground and innovate.

"We are confident that Taobao’s new concept will complement and enhance the line-up of experiential and tech-enabled retail concepts in Funan to engage and inspire the modern consumer,” Chong said.