Samsonite packs a two-pronged e-commerce strategy for China

The luggage maker is selling $80 million annually of its mid-level American Tourister brand, but selling the higher-end Samsonite line only in bricks-and-mortar stores.

Frank Tong

Just as a traveler may need more than one kind of suitcase for a long trip, luggage maker Samsonite International S.A. is employing more than one strategy for selling online in China.

The company is selling a lot of its mid-level American Tourister line of luggage—150 million Yuan ($24.2 million) in 2013, Samsonite China business development director Yu Yongming tells Internet Retailer. But it’s not selling its high-end Samsonite brand on the web. Instead, the Samsonite web site, www.samsonite.com.cn, only provides information about the products and the physical stores that sell them.

“It is often very difficult for Chinese consumers to distinguish authentic products with others on online marketplaces,” Yu says. “Today consumers still like to visit bricks-and-mortar stores, especially when they purchase high end products.”

The American Tourister site, www.americantourister.com.cn, also does not sell directly to consumers, but it provides a link to the American Tourister shop on Tmall, the brand-friendly online marketplace operated by China’s leading e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. In addition, to Tmall, American Tourister products are also sold on the marketplaces of Amazon China, JD.com and yhd.com, the site operated by Yihaodian, a web-only retailer that is majority owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. JD.com is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer China 500 , Amazon No. 4 and Yihaodian No. 6.

American Tourister products have been selling online since 2010. Web sales are nearly doubling each year, and they now represent 10% of American Tourister sales in China, Yu says.

If Samsonite sold all its product online, Yu says it likely could boost online sales in China to  500 million Yuan ($80.6 million). But, he adds, “We are cautious about the potential conflicts between online and our physical stores.”

Samsonite operates 2,000 stores in China, and its total sales in the country exceeded 2 billion Yuan ($322.4 million) in 2013, Yu says.

Readers who prefer to read in Mandarin can find Chinese e-commerce news on dianshang500.com



Alibaba, Amazon China, American Tourister, e-commerce in China, JD.com, Samsonite, Tmall, Yihaodian, Yu Yongming