Alibaba Opens Online Portal for Chinese Brands

E-commerce giant seeks to move Chinese goods up the value chain.

Many Americans consider China to be the home of low-cost sourcing and cheap, imitative products of questionable quality. Alibaba.com, the e-commerce company founded in Hangzhou, China, wants to change that image and has introduced a new site, Premier Channel, designed to provide U.S. retailers with easy access to top-quality Chinese brands.

AliExpress Premier Channel initially will offer products from 30 Chinese companies selected by the Alibaba.com team. Products range from portable mobile phone chargers to fashion accessories, footwear, housewares and apparel. Alibaba.com says most of the brands being offered are companies that are well-established in the domestic Chinese market, have adequate production capacity and have experience in online retailing. The site will focus on smaller companies that could not easily establish a presence in the United States on their own. Officials say the site plans to offer 100 brands by the end of 2011.

AliExpress handles the entire purchase process, including sourcing, inquiry, ordering, payment and logistics. Premier suppliers guarantee the authenticity of their products, 24-hour dispatch and free return shipping.

One of the AliExpress Premium brands being offered is Mbox, which designs and crafts fashion accessories and jewelry, often incorporating Swarovski stones. Mbox CEO Shi Xin stated "we are confident that our distinctive design aesthetic will resonate as strongly with local women as it does with women here in China."

Another brand, rip, is a conservation-minded brand that offers women's apparel but eschews the use of fur and leather products. The company says it takes its design inspirations from a multicultural world, including African and Indian influences.

Annie Xu, general manager of Alibaba.com and AliExpress in the United States, says AliExpress will provide U.S. retailers with unique, high-quality products that will allow them to differentiate their product offering and support higher margins. She says the site also builds on Alibaba.com's expertise in e-commerce to make international transactions safe and simple.

While Xu says the company will initially focus on offering Chinese brands to the United States, it hopes in the future to broaden its scope and represent companies from other areas, including the United States.

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