Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao has opened its first store in South-east Asia, in Funan mall, to cater to rising demand here for its home furniture goods.
Called Taobao Store by Virmall, the shop is a partnership between Taobao and Virmall, a local firm that helps to bring in products from merchants on Taobao. Opened last night, the shop offers more than 300 products, from furniture to kitchen appliances and clothes.
The 6,000 sq ft store is about 10 times larger than Taobao's six-month pop-up at multi-label concept store NomadX in Plaza Singapura.
The opening comes as competition in the e-commerce marketplace hots up, with home-grown shopping platform Shopee opening its new regional headquarters in Kent Ridge on Tuesday.
The Taobao store offers a complimentary virtual reality service for shoppers to better visualise how a piece of furniture will fit into their homes.
Consumers can also pick up their online orders at the store.
While some large furniture pieces can be purchased only by scanning the item's QR code on the Taobao mobile app, some items, such as the Xiaomi 90 series 20-inch luggage, are available for cash and carry.
Ms Charlene Zhang, business development lead at Taobao Singapore, told The Straits Times it was a natural step for Taobao to set up a physical store in Singapore, following the positive feedback from previous pop-up showcases.
She said sales in the home and living category have been on the rise since Taobao started offering the option of sea shipping to Singapore in 2017, which allows for the delivery of bulkier furniture items.
"Typically, home and living items are priced higher so shoppers may be a bit more apprehensive of buying big-ticket items, such as a sofa, online," she said.
"Having a physical store allows them to see and touch before buying."