BEIJING: Adidas, the sportswear giant, is the latest company to start selling products directly to Chinese consumers through the leading e-commerce platform Taobao.

The German operator recently unveiled its branded store on Taobao Mall, which will serve as its "flagship" outlet on the internet in the world's most populous nation.

Initially, 200 Adidas products are set to be made available via this medium, a total that is due to increase to around 800 in the near future.

"This special initiative addresses our Chinese consumers' changing lifestyle needs," Christophe Bezu, managing director of Adidas in China, said.

"We will now be able to provide them with an official online shopping channel to purchase authentic and even exclusive products at their own convenience."

Taobao estimates that sales of sporting goods from its site achieved a value of 800m yuan ($117m; €91m; £75m) in 2009, and have already come in at 700m yuan in the opening six months of 2010.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG company, launched its own "storefront" on Taobao in June 2009, a strategy subsequently used by apparel retailer Uniqlo, IT hardware manufacturers Lenovo and Dell, and electronics group Samsung.

Among the advantages of Taobao for shoppers is providing reassurance about avoiding counterfeits, alongside the strict criteria it has put in place for corporate partners, such as with regard to offering "no questions asked refunds".

The difficulties of establishing physical supply chains across China means a strong presence on the web also gives companies the ability to reach customers in second and third tier cities who would otherwise be hard to engage.

"This continued expansion of the brand selection on Taobao Mall is key to our mission of providing authentic, quality products and services to our consumers," said Daniel Zhang, general manager of Taobao Mall.

According to the China e-Business Research Centre, domestic e-commerce sales jumped by 60% year-on-year in H1 2010, to 2.25tn yuan overall.

Some 20,700 sites are now facilitating business-to-consumer transactions, B2B deals and peer-to-peer purchases between individuals.

Qian Xiaoqian, deputy director of the State Council Information Office, said that revenues should increase by at least 35% annually going forward, as penetration and digital literacy rise.

Data sourced from Asia Media Journal/Associated Press; additional content by Warc staff