Last week, H&M faced China’s ire over allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang, and was subsequently wiped from Chinese e-commerce sites and service apps. Alibaba and DST Global led a $750 million round in Chinese community-based grocery app Nice Tuan. Social media and e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu hired new chief financial officer amid IPO rumors.
China’s e-commerce and retail market offers a fire hose of products, choices, business models, rapidly changing content, and more. Here’s what you need to know about China’s online retail market for the week of March 25 – 31.
E-commerce responds to Xinjiang cotton boycott
- H&M has been removed from China’s e-commerce platforms including Alibaba’s Taobao, JD.com, and Pinduoduo as well as service apps from ride-hailing platform Didi to map apps from Tencent and Baidu. The Swedish fashion brand is facing a backlash over its decision to stop sourcing materials from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, a major cotton producer and home to China’s Uyghur minority, against which the country’s government is accused of significant human rights violations. (The Wall Street Journal)
- NetEase Yanxuan, the private-label e-commerce brand of Chinese tech firm NetEase, voiced its support for Xinjiang cotton, pledging to continue its use, help farmers to develop more products, and source more raw materials from within the country. (Ebrun, in Chinese)
- A number of international brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Uniqlo are also losing steam in the country for expressing concern about alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang. (SCMP)
IPOs and funding
- Chinese grocery app Nice Tuan has raised a $750 million round led by Alibaba Group and DST Global to bolster its supply chain and fresh produce offerings. Other participating investors include D.E. Shaw & Co., Anatole Investment, Jeneration Capital, and Dragoneer.(Ebrun, in Chinese)
- Chinese social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu has hired a former Citigroup executive to oversee its financial management amid reports that it is eyeing a public listing in the US, according to a report by The Information. (TechNode)
- Two Shanghai-based venture capitalists have accused Cai Guangyuan, chief executive of power bank rental company Energy Monster, of reneging on a deal to give them a joint 3% stake in the business. The dispute is poorly timed—the company recently filed a prospectus for a US listing. (Reuters)
Growth in logistics
- Alibaba’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network announced Monday a partnership with Hong Kong Air Cargo, a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airline, to begin cargo flights to Southeast Asia. In the first phase of the cooperation, Hong Kong Air Cargo will operate flights to hubs Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok on behalf of Alibaba’s logistics arm. (Ifeng, in Chinese)
- China’s same-city logistics service provider Shansong Express has received RMB 125 million in funding for a Series D2 from Shunwei Capital, N5 Capital, SIG China, Tiantu Capital, Oceanpine Capital, Alpha Square Group, Axiom Asia Private Capital, Qianshan Capital, and CF Capital. SIG China became the company’s largest institutional investor after the round. The Beijing-based firm had upwards of 100 million users as of 2019. (Tencent News, in Chinese)
Meituan booked net losses of RMB 2.3 billion ($345 million) in fourth quarter of last year as the Chinese food delivery giant ramped up investment in the community-based grocery business. The company warned that investment in grocery services will continue to weigh on its profitability, although growth in its core food delivery and in-store business earned a better-than-expected RMB 37.9 billion in revenue for the reporting period. (Bloomberg)