Alibaba Exec Sounds Off on Chinese Market at FN Platform

The company is prepping for a highly anticipated IPO.

China Alibaba’s Tmall

There is major opportunity online for U.S. footwear and apparel brands in China, but companies shouldn’t wait to make a play for the fast-growing market.

That was the message from John Spelich, VP of international e-commerce development for Hong Kong-based Alibaba Group, who spoke at FN Platform on Monday afternoon.

“The window is starting to close. Chinese people are starting to develop brand affinities,” Spelich said during a discussion moderated by former Clarks Americas head Jim Salzano.

Still, the potential for firms is tremendous, he said. “China doesn’t have a very well-developed retail system, so we are leapfrogging traditional development,” he said. “There is a whole generation who has been trained [to make their purchases online].”

To demonstrate the company’s prowess in China, Spelich cited the highly successful “Double 11” shopping day, held each year on Nov. 11. Last year, transactions worth a whopping $5.8 billion were completed on the firm’s sites.

Alibaba – which takes a marketplace approach to its business - continues to court more U.S.-based brands as it preps for its blockbuster IPO on the New York Stock exchange this fall.

One  area of concern for brands has been the sale of counterfeit goods on its sites. Spelich stressed that the company was “deeply committed” to tackling the issue.

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