Yiwubuy, a general merchandise wholesaler that competes with Alibaba for Chinese B2B sales, is putting up a series of physical showrooms overseas to help local buyers purchasing at a store, which Yiwubuy are dubbing product experience centers.
The latest location was opened last week in Budapest, Hungary, which will be a key European hub, noted Internet Retailer.
“The center, which encompasses 1,000 square meters, is located inside a Chinese products shopping mall, which covers an area of 43,000 square meters in the finance and trade zone of East Budapest. The construction of offline product experience centers is part of the global expansion strategy of Yiwubuy, whose competitors include the Alibaba.com marketplace for sourcing goods from China operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s dominant e-commerce company,” the story said. “Yiwubuy says it will open several similar offline showrooms in several other major European cities, including: Warsaw, Poland; Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic and Rome.”
Yiwubuy sees physical stores—especially those that are globally distributed—as a key competitive differentiator with the massive and well-funded Alibaba. But Yiwubuy has some serious connections of its own, as it’s owned by Zhejiang China Commodities City Group Co. Ltd, which happens to be state-owned. Zhejiang is known in China as Commodity City.
“Commodity City also operates one of the largest household products bricks-and-mortar wholesale marketplaces in China, the Yiwu Market. The Yiwu Market includes more than 70,000 stores, which together sell more than 2 million products, including apparels, toys and electronics to wholesalers from 200 countries,” the Internet Retailer story noted. “Commodities City is also using Internet technology to help grow the Yiwu Market. It has started to provide Internet escrow payment services and a sellers’ online ratings system to help international buyers purchase more easily from the Yiwu Market.”
This merging of online and in-store has some serious advantages. When a buyer is evaluating a purchase, she can go online to check ratings from other buyers and to make a purchase through an escrow payment system.