Recently, Alibaba announced to invest in an online women clothing sharing platform YCloset. Besides normal online trade, Alibaba has been trying to meet the customers’ demands for lease and second-hand transactions. Its ambitious plan was unfolded in 2017.
Taobao Lease started operating on 22nd September 2017. There was no direct link on the home page of Taobao, but you can enter Taobao Lease by typing these key words in the search bar. Only few brands were accessible, like iLezu, Jimi and igooma, which were mainly brands for 3C products. As reported, iPhone 8 could be hired at the price of RMB3348 per year on the platform, and around 5000 iPhones were snapped up overnight.
Four days later, on 26th September, brands for more categories started to appear, such as clothes, toys, unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, mobile phones, house renting, water purifying plants, etc. Additionally, some clothes lease brands also appeared, such as MSParis and YCloset.
YCloset and MSParis were two key promotion projects, because they were the only ones that had special events on the page. YCloset designed cards for ‘short-term experience’, which enables customers to wear more than 10 fashionable suites in 10 days, and try on the new arrivals of Prada for the price of RMB5.9 per day. MSParis launched an activity for new Taobao clients offering them three new clothes for 10-day fitting at RMB9.9.
If you click on one of the stores on Taobao Lease website you will be redirected to Alipay. So it seems that Taobao Lease is more of an integrated website of services, and Alipay is the significant power behind them. Zhima Credit, which was built by Alipay, aims to solve the issues of deposits relying on ‘credit scores’ - people with higher scores in Zhima Credit do not need to pay the deposit. In this way, it was able to play a role in many other aspects of people’s daily lives, from house renting to travelling.
Including Xianyu, which is a transaction platform for unused items, Alibaba had depicted three scenarios for its customers in its e-commerce strategy: normal trade, second-hand transactions and leases. The normal trade is completed on Taobao, Tmall and Fliggy (a platform for tourist and travel information) while the less frequent trade, such as second-hand exchanges and leases, is conducted on Xianyu and Alipay.
However, the functions of lease will not significantly reduce people’s desire for shopping. Because for some people, it is not that ‘wise’ to spend too much on products that they do not use often, such as clothes for parties and excursions, and renting would be a good way to economise. On the other hand, second-hand transactions are more likely to be caused by the excessive online shopping. Leases and second-hand transactions are an additional way of trade between traditional retailers and consumers.
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