I hate to write about ‘Chinese copies’ or ‘China’s XXX’. But you’d be urged to write about China’s Fabs when Tencent, the Chinese Internet giant, invested in the US company. There are Chinese services, such as Xipin, that did claim they were ‘China’s Fabs’. However we cannot count all the online design goods retailers as Fab copies.

To be fair, unlike services such as group-buying, you don’t have to copy Fab in order to sell designer goods online or pivot now and then. Some of the sites I’d list in this post started with Etsy model and later added flash sales or other services. What I feel sorry to tell you is that their webpages look alike in layout and the only difference I can tell between them is goods they sell.

Also I don’t want to speculate on how Tencent would help Fab to establish presence in China, for 1) I don’t think the investment Tencent made in Fab is for bringing it to China in the first place, 2) if Tencent did want to do so, I guess Fab would be suggested to read stories about Groupon China, or Gaopeng, the joint venture established by Groupon and Tencent.

We had a conversation with founders of Nuandao, one of whom that would be labeled as ‘China’s Fabs’, on the Fab news today. I agree with Yan Zhang, its co-Founder, on Fab and how to run a successful designer goods site in China,

Fab’s success in the US and Europe should not be simply attributed to selling “design” products, or their flash sales model, or that they do “social commerce” well. Fab is successful foremost because they stand for a lifestyle that emotionally resonates with American and European consumers. Fab’s differentiating advantage lies in merchandising, or simply put, telling their consumers what they want. That advantage comes from a native understanding of consumer tastes. Fab’s approach can be successful anywhere in the world, but they cannot just port their style, taste, and merchandise selection to China.

Launched in May 2012, Nuandao now partners with over 1200 designers and brands, offering over 11000 SKUs at any given time. Starting as a flash sales site, it shifted to “permanent sales” at the end of 2012. Now, over 60% of its sales come from permanent sales.

Zhou Pin, founder of Quwan and a former Baidu exec, started with selling toys online. In 2009 Quwan shifted focus to creative furniture.


Xipin made it clear that they followed Fab when the latter was big on flash sales. Launched in April 2012, the company has raised an angel round and “tens of millions of yuan” Series A round (in Chinese).


A handful of others include Wowsai  and Ujipin, both of which were launched in 2011. So far we don’t know much about their sales performance or profitability.


Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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  1. Copying the business model is easier, however, the culture is harder to transfer.

    Probably, that is why China Brand cycle life is usually short…

  2. It’s not easy for Chinese online goods retailers to cast themselves into the mold which is in complete accord with Chinses market. It’s a long process with more patience and efforts for those e-business models to be localized.

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