December 14, 2011, 11:31 AM

Coach looks to expand online in China—at least for now

Coach will open a temporary storefront on Taobao.com through Jan. 15.

Lead Photo

Bags and accessories manufacturer Coach Inc. is testing the e-commerce market in China.

From Dec. 12 through Jan. 15, Coach, No. 164 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, will open and operate an online storefront on Taobao.com, a direct-to-consumer marketplace similar to eBay that is the leading online retail site in China, according to iResearch, a market research firm based in China.

Coach, which already operates 71 stores in China and Hong Kong, is opening an online store to help the company celebrate its 70th anniversary—and prime the pump for a possible permanent e-commerce site to be launched at an undisclosed date. “The new store will help us increase our understanding of the needs and preferences of China's online shoppers, helping us accumulate valuable experience in China's e-commerce landscape and gaining insights to potentially pave the way for the development and launch of a permanent online Coach store in China,” says Coach president and CEO Jonathan Seliger.

On its Taobao storefront Coach will carry a full inventory of more than 1,400 SKUs including handbags, accessories, outerwear, scarves, watches, and jewelry, plus some 70th anniversary limited-edition products, the company says.

To drive traffic to the Coach store on Taobao.com, Coach also will hold a drawing and give 20 winners copies of a new cookbook authored by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who also serves as a company product spokeswoman.

In addition to the temporary Chinese e-commerce site, Coach sells online in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Coach doesn’t break out quarterly or annual web sales in its financial reporting, but for the 2011 fiscal year ended July 2 noted that its e-commerce sites attracted total annual visits of 68 million.

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