CHINA. GDFS, which describes itself as travel retail’s first membership-based global vertical e-commerce company, has opened a second physical ‘Experience Store’, this time in Ningbo in Zhejiang Province.
Ningbo is a major port and industrial hub in east China. The store is a follow-up to GDFS’s first store opened in Hangzhou in May. As reported, consumers pay an annual GDFS membership fee of US$118 to benefit from shopping opportunities through the GDFS website (www.gdfs.com) and the physical and online offers of its overseas partners. Already some 200,000 members have signed up, GDFS told The Moodie Davitt Report.
“A lot of brands are just selling through websites but that means Chinese consumers can’t try products such as perfume and skincare. People want to try items and then decide if they want to buy or not.”
Like the Hangzhou offer, the Ningbo Experience store offers Chinese consumers the chance to test new products before ordering them online via the GDFS website and having them home-delivered.
GDFS, which has twin bases in Beijing and Hong Kong, plans to establish partnerships with selected duty free partners to increase sales to Chinese travellers overseas.
“It’s the same with accessories such as necklaces. Consumers want to try them on because often the picture on a website is not accurate.”
GDFS Vice President Diana Xi told The Moodie Davitt Report: “We are going to open more stores at the end of this year, all in very good locations.” GDFS, whose warehouse is in Hong Kong, offers consumers a choice of fulfilment times – rush delivery or 5-7 days. The latter is cheaper and has proven hugely popular, Ms Xi said.
“People have gone crazy for our second store,” she said. “They are waiting in a line for two hours to enter [because of the heavy demand and constrained space, GDFS operates a strict queuing system -Ed].”
“Our customer in Ningbo, on average, spends RMB3,000 (US$452 in our store and they’re crazy about high-end products,” she said. “High-end face cream or skin cream. People want sets – sometimes two or three sets.
“We are very happy with the situation right now so that’s why we plan to open six or seven stores at the end of this year. In the future our intention is to introduce more new brands to our store. When I was talking to new skincare brands, for example, during TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes, they were excited about our idea. Because otherwise they would need to wait around two years to enter the Chinese market due to the long testing process involved.
“A lot of brands are just selling through websites but that means Chinese consumers can’t try products such as perfume and skincare. People want to try items and then decide if they want to buy or not. It’s the same with accessories such as necklaces. Consumers want to try them on because often the picture on a website is not accurate.
“We want to bring many new brands into these China market. We will encourage them to come here and together we can market to the Chinese customer. The potential for high-end, foreign products – especially from Europe – is very high. So, we are very excited and we want to open another 30 stores next year. We have already signed contract with 15 shopping malls to open stores in 2018.”
PICTURE GALLERY OF GDFS’s FIRST STORE OPENING, IN HANGZHOU IN MAY