According to Chinese online shopping platform Taobao.com, the company is currently deploying offline retail kiosks and payment points across China to complement the over 4,000 locations it has already opened in Beijing in such supermarkets and convenience stores as Vanguard, Lianhua and Hi-24.
For a long time, consumers who bought products through the Internet on Taobao.com could only complete their payments via online banks and Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba which also owns Taobao.com. This prevented those Chinese consumers who are not able to access the Internet from participating in the consumer nirvana of online shopping and e-commerce. Currently China only counts about 240 million Internet users in a nation of over 1.3 billion.
As the online shopping systems have developed rapidly in China, more online shop owners hope to simplify the payment process to attract more people to participate in online shopping. In June 2008, Alipay launched a mobile phone payment service through which consumers can do online shopping without a computer.
The deployment of the offline stores is also a move for Taobao.com to attract more people to the online shopping demographic. A representative from Taobao.com told local media that so far there have been 15,000 offline Taobao payment points and kiosks stores across China, including the 4,000 in Beijing. By the end of 2009, Taobao.com will complete the deployment of 100,000 offline payment points.
The offline kiosks are specially designed for consumers who can not complete the payments through the Internet. They can pay in cash in supermarkets and convenience stores such as Vanguard, Lianhua and Hi-24 after selecting products from Taobao.com’s online stores.