Overstock Spills Over Into China


Overstock.Com based in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA has quietly diversified its online shopping into China via the Shanghai back door, and plans to extend its lastminute.com operation there after chinatising it to suit asian tastes. This is one to watch. Being on the 2014 Forbes Overstocklist of Top 100 Most Trustworthy Companies is bound to appeal to Chinese consumers irritated by being scammed with counterfeit goods.

“We are excited to enter the Chinese market,” CEO Patrick Byrne announced in the press release. This is a great opportunity for Overstock and our partners, “A journey of a thousand li begins with a single step.”

Overstock Ties into Existing Supply Funnel

Overstock plans to continue using its Shanghai base to handle operational and administrative matters, as well as sourcing, merchandising and returns management. From there, Chinese delivery service Shùnfēng Sùyùn AKA SF Express will deliver merchandise to JD.com (Jingdong Mall) clients in mainland China. This is another smart move given that the online retailer previously 360Buy is one of China’s largest by transaction volume.

What Overstock is Likely to Sell in China

The Salt Lake City online retail company has a low-price, broad product spread approach, and likes to create the illusion that it sells production overruns which was its original purpose. Its offerings include bedding, clothing, furniture, electronics, rugs, and jewellery. Artisans in third world countries handcraft some products. Others may well come from Asia.

Why Overstock Made the Move Now

Most dot.coms make a lumpy start and Overstock was no exception. Following rebranding in 1999 it took 11 years to make an annual profit. In 2011 Google penalised it for two months for allegedly building fake websites according to Wall Street Journal. This may have contributed to the decision to diversify the operation.

Already a Variety of Overstock Trademarks

The U.S.-based online marketplace  trades under a variety of different trademarks such as Woodstock Fair Trade, Club O Dollars and O Global. Extending its interests into the world’s second largest economy via an existing online shopping channel may well prove its best move yet. Shanghai-based ecommerce consultants Web2Asia helped it integrate with its new partners.


About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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