Alibaba has partnered with US e-commerce platform ShopRunner in a deal that will allow Chinese consumers easier access to goods sold in the US.
ShopRunner will use Alibaba’s logistics infrastructure to get products to Chinese customers from their thousands of retail partners, which include brands like Calvin Klein, GNC, and Kenneth Cole, as well as partner stores like Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor. The two companies will be creating a “joint brand” in China, according to Fiona Dias, ShopRunner’s chief strategy officer.
Alibaba has a 39 percent stake in ShopRunner, for which Alibaba paid $202 million. Customers can search for goods on ShopRunner, check out through its partner sites and get unlimited two-day shipping on their purchases for $79 a year.
ShopRunner has been called an “Amazon rival” for its shipping options, which are similar to Amazon’s “Prime” service, also a two-day shipping option for members who pay $79 a year. After news from Amazon that its Prime service will be increasing in price, ShopRunner offered pre-existing Prime members free one-year memberships to woo them over. Amazon has an e-commerce store in China, but analysts said that Alibaba’s partnership with ShopRunner in China might not necessarily hurt Amazon’s business.
“There is unsatiated demand for goods and brands from the US,” said Justin Ren, professor of technology management at the Boston University School of Management. “It is also true that it is notoriously difficult for US retailers themselves to enter China.”
Through the partnership, users under Alibaba’s Alipay – a payments system similar to PayPal – will be able to order goods through ShopRunner’s partners and have the goods delivered within 10 days.