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e-Commerce, Trends
June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

China’s e-Commerce giants go to College

Chinese dorm shopping session? | Source: 17173

Dormitory e-Commerce session? | Source: 17173

Chinese university students lead stressful lives and are famous for their online addictions. While students in the Capitalist world have Mardi Graspsychedelic drugs, and cannibalism to relieve stress, students in the People’s Republic choose a more civilized path – shopping. Chinese students are price-conscious, have little free time, and are relatively trusting of online media. This makes them ideal online shoppers. China’s e-Commerce giants, for their part, use a variety of online and offline activities to attract students. So far, the result are impressive.

360Buy, one of China’s largest e-tailers, is running a campus roadshow throughout June. The roadshow covers close to 100 universities in 10 cities across China. The roadshow exposes students to physical products offline and encourages them  to register and complete purchases offline. The assumption is that once a student registers and completes one transaction, many more will follow. Dozens of electronics and personal care brands take part in 360Buy’s campus roadshow, including Huawei, P&G, Kingston, Fujitsu, Samsung, Tsinghua Tongfang, Acer, Microsoft, Sofy, Handuyishe, Naturesbounty and Toshiba. The companies offer products at substantial discounts and give away promotional coupons. The roadshow is a first for 360Buy, following a variety of other efforts  to attract students over the last few years. These include free deliveries to university campuses, special purchasing credits for students, and special incentives for campus marketing partners and dealers (more here, in Chinese).

Other e-Commerce sites like Taobao, Vancl, Dangdang, Yihaodian, Newegg, and are also eyeing the campus market.  Yihaodian, an online supermarket backed by Walmart, is hiring 15,000 campus dealers in over 1,300 universities. Vancl and Dangdang also use on-campus dealers to promote their sites and facilitate business. Campus dealers help clients receive goods and provide a form of micro credit by paying in advance for goods delivered to universities. Once the goods are received, campus dealers deliver them to individual students and collect the payment. Newegg, a consumer electronics e-tailer, also held several on-campus technology exhibitions, but on a smaller scale than 360Buy (more on this here, herehereherehere, and here,in Chinese).

Taobao, China’s largest e-Commerce site, launched BOC Taobao Campus Card together with Bank of China and Alipay in 2010. The card combines basic bank card functions with online purchase functions that are otherwise not available to shoppers who do not have credit cards. Taobao also cooperates with different universities and takes part in on-campus events and exhibitions. Over the last few weeks, Taobao made close to RMB 1 billion in sales of graduation-related goods. These include, for example, the sale of 130,000 DIY graduation T-shirts within 30 days. During graduation season in April and May, the total sales of DIY T-shirts on Taobao increased by 451% to over 2.17 million.

To capture China’s future white collar workers, retailers target kids from kindergarten, through elementary school, and finally in college. Brands who are not yet doing so should take note.


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