Apps Chinese E-Commerce Plateforms eCommerce Marketing

Taobao’s Coolest Features: What Fast-Fashion Brands Could Learn from the Giant

Have you ever noticed somebody’s outfit and just thought “Oh wow where did she buy that?” but you wouldn’t dare to ask so your only chance to find it might be scrolling down for hours on every e-commerce website (even though we know you are too lazy to do such a thing) ? Thanks to the giant e-commerce Chinese marketplace Taobao, no need to waste your time anymore! In this article we’ll introduce you to Taobao’s coolest feature: the picture scanner.

Let’s take an example: I was scrolling on Instagram and I saw this really nice coat on one of my favourite influencers. I had no idea about the brand or any other information on this product. So here is what I did: watch out, this is definitely going to change your whole shopping experience!

A unique feature revolutionizing customer experience

For those of you who don’t know, Taobao is an e-commerce platform belonging to the Alibaba group which is the equivalent of Amazon in western countries. On Taobao you can basically find anything you’d want from the trendiest sneakers to your mom’s glass table. The easiest way to find what you are looking for is to use this amazing feature which is the picture scanner. The only thing you have to do is upload a picture of the product you are looking for. In all of a sudden you will be able to buy it or buy a similar product.

Isn’t it awesome? Not only did I find the exact coat in a few seconds but also similar articles with a large range of prices.

Taobao is truly redefining the shopping experience through the precision of this feature but also with its intelligent home page completely personalized according to your previous searches. Here for example Taobao’s home page is reflecting my personality by displaying articles that I should like (and it’s the case) whereas Asos displays first the products they want to promote. We think it is really something Asos should think about in the future.

Now let’s try to understand how Taobao compares to other fashion retailers.


                     Taobao’s home page
                      ASOS’s home page

“Compared to Taobao, maybe fast fashion just isn’t fast enough”

The rise of fast-fashion retailers has considerably changed the retail environment, from the manufacturing process to the customer experience. By rapidly translating high-fashion design and trends into low price products, brands like H&M, Zara, and online players like Missguided or ASOS have a higher speed to market than high-end and luxury brands. They reach customers faster and are more competitive.

The market is changing rapidly due to the increase of information available, trends, and consumer expectations.

On the Chinese market, these factors are amplified by the manufacturing power of the country, the interconnectivity across the value chain and the greater access to data.

There are 3 characteristics of fast-fashion on which Taobao has an advantage on:

  • Availability: with the rapid rate of manufacturing and proximity to the manufacturers, the time cycle from consumption to production is a lot shorter. Brands like Zara and Forever 21 also manufacture in their home countries to decrease inventory costs and deliver garnments faster. Also, Taobao is a C2C Platform that connects sellers and buyers, it does not have a centralized supply chain system. This allows for more efficiency, flexibility and reduces availability problems.
  • Price: Thanks to its structure, Taobao eliminates a lot of costs. The immense availability of cheap garments provided by the numerous suppliers allow the consumer to have a lot of choice, thus having bargaining power and access of lower prices.
  • Trends: fast-fashion retailers already pose a threat to designer brands by their propensity to release garment with similar or exact designs even before designers start their production processes.

The Taobao marketplace combines the manufacturing strengths of China with the  power of the e-commerce giant Alibaba to dominate their competitors and takes fast-fashion to another level. The transaction sales volume of Taobao is unmatched, contributing to the RMB5,825 million (US$928 million) mainland retail revenue generated by Alibaba in 2018.

The Fashion Retail Value Chain Revolution

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