AliExpress, Alibaba’s European platform, is reported to be looking to attract major fashion brands like Mango and Benetton to sell on the site, but with limited success so far.

According to Reuters, a strategy of undercutting Amazon sellers’ fees has brought in many small businesses in target countries, but larger brands are proving resistant.

Sources suggested that some may not want to appear alongside the existing offerings on AliExpress, which include cheap items constructed from man-made materials; one fashion executive spoke of needing to be in an “aspirational environment”.

But as another observed, AliExpress is “a work in progress” as it moves from selling inexpensive Chinese products overseas to bringing on board local vendors and brands in a move that seeks to replicate the success of Alibaba’s business model in China with its Tmall and Taobao platforms.

Wang Mingqiang, head of AliExpress, told Reuters that foreign brands need time to understand the platform and how they can design their own stores to create the feel they want.

Such brands “have a better understanding of local users, their products have better designs as they are closer to local users”, he added.

As part of a long-term plan to double its customer base to 2 billion, AliExpress is initially focusing its European efforts on Spain and Italy, as well as the gateway nations of Russia and Turkey.

It has already signed up thousands of small business in Spain. One such, cosmetics start-up Le Tout, said it is selling 12 times more volume on Amazon than AliExpress but it’s early days.

“I think that AliExpress has been associated for a long time with Chinese products,” said managing director Alvaro Dominguez. “It’s a question of time but I think they are doing all that is possible to get traffic and visibility.”

It helps that not all big brands are shunning the platform – department store El Corte Ingles sells seven fashion lines through AliExpress, which gives it a higher profile.

Sourced from Reuters