Net-a-Porter steps up efforts to win over China

What happened: On May 4, Net-a-Porter, the luxury e-commerce platform, announced that Chinese model Liu Wen, who has 26.1 million Weibo followers and works with Chanel, Gucci and Tods, is now its ambassador to China. In an interview with Daily Jing, Net-a-Porter said, “Liu Wen is a perfect fit with Net-a-Porter’s philosophy. And this collaboration is a demonstration of Net-a-Porter’s commitment to representing the power of women’s diversity.

At the same time, the site unveiled its new Chinese name, “Po Te” (“颇特”) – individually the characters mean “many” and “special”. Net-a-Porter has also partnered with Tmall Digital Collectibles to launch its Net-a-Porter “Infinite New Possibility” galaxy project. The initiative allows 6,000 participants to creatively create their own Net-a-Porter galaxy NFTs; already invited are Liu Wen, as well as four local designers Samuel Gui Yang, Windowsen, Rui and Shushu/Tong.

Net-a-Porter’s new China ambassador, former Victoria’s Secret angel Liu Wen. Photo: Net-A-Porter’s Weibo

The Jing plug: Here, Net-a-Porter bets on an undisputed star. As a world-renowned model and style icon, the former Victoria’s Secret angel has earned a solid reputation in China’s high-end fashion market. Her looks are often copied by local shoppers and sell out quickly in stores. It could also provide targeted traffic to Net-a-Porter from affluent fashionistas who aren’t afraid to try new designer brands.

With data showing that the traditional offline luxury retail landscape could change dramatically over the next few years, Net-a-Porter will need all the help it can get. Last month the China Luxury Digital Report 2021 published by Yaok Research Institute pointed out that in 2022, online sales are expected to exceed $34.6 billion (RMB 220 billion), which means that they will account for more than 30% of total luxury goods sales in China.

Undoubtedly, the opportunities will increase for digital players like Net-a-Porter, but so will the competition. From Farfetch to SSENSE, which has been in the mainland market for over half a decade, and LUISAVIAROMA, with over a decade of experience in the country, three-year-old Net-a-Porter is still relatively new to China.

As such, entering the Metaverse could be another stealth move. As the first international luxury e-tailer to pioneer the nascent Chinese metaverse space, it has the advantage of being the first to capitalize on native Web3 local consumers and turn them into loyal customers. This move will undoubtedly usher in a new era for multi-brand e-tailers and unlock new ways of working with brands, further reshaping the retail game.

If executed well, Net-a-Porter could carve out a share of the Chinese market $8 trillion Web3 market for itself and finally achieve profitability. Given this, Net-a-Porter would be smart to run with this opportunity before other rivals join this potentially lucrative space.

The Jing Plug reports on major news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the main implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product declines and mergers to heated debates popping up on Chinese social media.

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