China Mail-Order Company Spins Off Online Catalog

HONG KONG (05/05/2000) - Offering some 20,000 products, ranging from apparel to household items, Chinese mail order company Mecox Lane has taken its operations to the Web at http://www.M18.com.

The company, which began four years ago as a catalogue-only enterprise, has since transformed its business into a multichannel entity and last week launched its electronic storefront. It also has about 100 physical stores, licensed under its house label, Euromoda, throughout China.

"It's possible for us to go online so quickly because there are many similarities to mail-order or catalogue shopping," said Andrew Tsuei, chairman and CEO of Mecox Lane. He added the start-up is a natural extension to his company's current back-end operations.

"We have a 2.5 million customer base to start with from the mail-order business, and we've gotten positive feedback from those customers with 'Net access," said Tsuei.

In the first week of the launch, Mecox claims to have attracted 50,000 registered members, with one-third being mail-order customers. It also said it has received more than 2,000 orders from its online store, with orders amounting to $1.28 million Chinese Renminbi (about US$154,000) in the first week alone.

"We've launched the site in Beijing, Guangzhou, Urumqi, Wuhan, Chengdu, and Lhasa, and are planning to market M18.com to 10 more cities in the next 2 months," said Tsuei.

Mecox said it fulfills its promise of delivering its merchandise to every corner of the country, no matter how rural, by using the network of 60,000 post office branches countrywide, company officials said.

According to Tsuei, experience with mail order has given his company an advantage in deciphering customer behavior through distance selling.

"Mecox lane has fostered the trust and comfort of our customers, a crucial factor in a country like China, where e-commerce has just taken off and people are still experimenting with distant selling modes, by which purchasing decisions are made without physically touching the products," he said.

To make sure that customers are fully satisfied with their orders, the online store, like the company's mail order guarantee, offers a 10-day return policy, no questions asked.

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