Alibaba’s Tmall Global now features goods from 14,500 overseas brands, 80% of them selling in China for the first time.
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Others assert that the bar code is about much more than price comparisons. Product reviews, promotions, consumer ratings, are all available with bar code scanning technology, says Julie Ask, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc.
Not everyone is seeking the cheapest price on every purchase, Ask says. “People need to feel comfortable, she says. “They want to know they’ve bought the best product to fit their needs and want good customer service. There is also an issue of convenience—how much would I save if I have to drive to buy a product that I want? Can I wait to order online and have it delivered?”
Sucharita Mulupuru, vice president and principal analyst with Forrester, says in the categories where price is really a factor, shoppers were already looking for the best price long before bar code scanning emerged. “Certain product categories that are high consideration and that people will wait for the best deal for—say, a TV or a fridge—will be affected by this,” she says. “But let’s face it, they already are.”