Property editor of the NZ Herald

Chinese shopping giant chases Kiwi customers

Top designer brands at knock-down prices and for limited periods of time: that's the deal from Chinese behemoth website when it starts to sell here next year.

A huge challenge to Alibaba could come from China's third-largest online website, with 180 million registered users. is so popular that 80 per cent of its sales are from repeat business - existing customers who had such a great experience that they couldn't resist coming back.

Hillary Wang, senior international director of the business, is in Auckland from China for the Tripartite Economic Summit this week and she revealed how - a brand not known to us yet - hopes to launch in New Zealand next year.

Top-shelf handbags and well-known label clothes at bargain basement for a fraction of the full price is the formula behind the business.

"Vipshop sells US$40 ($59) jackets alongside US$1000 ($1470) designer handbags, typically within a time window of four to six days ("flash" sale of luxury products, however, can last as long as 12 days)," said America's Forbes magazine of the business which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and out of Guangzhou.

Vipshop would not only have an Auckland central business district office with a number of staff but was also considering opening a warehouse. However, it might also source overseas products from its Sydney warehouse, Wang said.

In a two-way deal, the Guangzhou-headquartered business wants to vastly increase its purchases of New Zealand goods, particularly food, wine, pet products, mother and baby merchandise and cosmetics, she said. already buys large volumes of New Zealand manuka honey, A2 Milk, Comvita, Hubbards breakfast or cereal foods, Karen Murrell lipsticks and lifestyle/home decor products. had spent about US$10 million on Comvita in the past six months and tens of thousands of packets of Hubbards are being sold on the site, she said.

However, it wants to source New Zealand red and white wines.

"We're already talking to suppliers," Wang said.

Eighty per cent of sales were to returning customers, she said, telling how customer numbers were "three times the size of the total New Zealand population visiting a day".

Wang said the summit did not prompt the New Zealand launch but had helped cement ties. This was her first visit to New Zealand and she is making a second presentation today about the business in Auckland.

"There have been lots of concerns about food safety in China. New Zealand produce is known as being clean, green and reliable," she said.

Health concerns about Chinese-made lipsticks prompted to buy lipsticks from Karen Murrell, headquartered in Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna.

Avocado, oranges, castor oil, cinnamon, jojoba and evening primrose are used to make the lipsticks and Wang said the natural ingredients were hugely attractive to Chinese women.

"Lots of our lipsticks are not safe to eat. But we're selling tens of thousands of Karen Murrell," she said.

China Internet Watch has reported that Vipshop is "China's leading online discount retailer for brands and considered as the largest flash sale website. Vipshop offers high quality and popular branded products to consumers throughout China at a significant discount to retail prices. Since it was founded in August 2008, the Company has rapidly built a sizeable and growing base of customers and brand partners." has existed for only seven years, Wang told the summit, yet already had 180 million registered users and employs 30,000 staff in China alone. It listed on the New York Stock Exchange as and now trades at about US$12.44 a share, although it has traded at US$30 a share. It has offices in 15 countries and has a market capitalisation of about US$7.31 billion ($10.7 billion).

"We went live in December 2008 and in 2012, listed on the NYSE. We have offices all around the world, but not in New Zealand yet. We are industry leaders in the sale of apparel, shoes, bags and cosmetics," she told the summit, which is aiming for further co-operation between Guangzhou, Los Angeles and Auckland.

Around US$590 billion of sales in China were now online and sells 18,000 brands, all carefully selected, Wang said.

These include La Chapelle, La Miu, Skirt Queen and Naersi.

At 2.30pm today, Wang and two other executives will give an address at the Stamford Plaza.

• One of the world's biggest online retailers.

• Offices in 15 countries.

• Has 180 million Chinese registered customers.

• 80pc of those are returning customers.

• About to open Auckland offices.

• Might establish a huge warehouse here.

- NZ Herald

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