The coronavirus pandemic shuttered sports events for months, but it did not slow online sports merchandise growing in Chinese market. With more and more international football clubs and associations launching their official E-commerce projects in China, the sports E-commerce is growing unprecedented strong in China. The huge number of Chinese football fans and E-commerce consumption power has promoted the rapid expansion and development of sports merchandise, also brought global football brands opportunities in China.
According to our sources from Chinese E-commerce experts, of all the international football clubs and associations running fan stores in China, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) China e-commerce project, operated by Beijing All Star Partner Communications Co., Ltd (ASP) ranks first now, with 40+ categories, 200+ SKUs, and monthly sales of more than 3000 (number of orders).
We interviewed the ASP team, to know what’s their secret and exceptional strengths compared to other fan stores with far less sales volume, leading them and AFA to success. JIN Ye, the COO shared with us their insights about Chinese sports E-commerce market and their business model.
“ASP is located in Beijing. We are a leading local sports E-commerce company in China, focusing on sports licensing and merchandise for top global sports brands.” Jin Ye told us, besides sports licensing and merchandise, ASP also provide services of marketing and digital operation, while now they are focusing on developing licensed products and official stores, to help their clients achieve both branding and commercial success in China.
ASP helps Argentine Football Association develop its E-commerce from 0-1. Unlike all other global sports clubs, AFA China e-commerce designs, develops and manufactures products all locally in China, rather than shipping them from overseas. “E-commerce is a very instant and pleasant internet consumption trend. If you can’t adapt to the changing trend at any time, you can’t guarantee fast logistics and after-sales service, the growth will be very slow,” Jin Ye told us.
According to public statistics, there’s a large number of Chinese sports populations, which has exceeded 480 million, including over 200 million football fans. What is not proportional to these exciting numbers, is that global sports clubs and associations never provide good service in Chinese sports licensing and E-commerce market. ASP told us, before they launched the AFA store and provided a very rich range of products, most other clubs just offered few categories like jerseys, which needed overseas shipments, which cannot meet the need of local fans.
“China’s logistics system is very developed. For most Chinese E-commerce consumers, the delivery time of over three days is intolerable, even it might come from abroad. We have cooperation with logistics companies, and have built our own warehouse, to ensure that fans’ products can be delivered to them in the shortest time.” Jin Ye shared with us, that ASP has more than 60 E-commerce professionals, including logistics professionals, art designers, product managers, operation and customer service professionals, etc.
“Logistics is only one aspect. Our biggest assets are our design talents and product managers, behind which there is a strong supply chain system.” ASP has developed more than 40 categories, and 200 SKUs for AFA, the key to making exquisite design and rapid production in a very short time, as they said, is their supply chain with over 750 top suppliers all around China, with great quality and reliable delivery.
“Made-in-China is undeniably common. After investigation and assessment, we have confirmed a number of truly high-quality factories. Also we have signed strict cooperation terms with them to ensure the rights and interests of our clients. Our supply chain can help us expand the categories, improve the logistics and use the latest production technology, to accelerate the process of production.” Jin Ye told us, “We are willing to sell jerseys and sports gears for our clients, but we also hope to bring more kinds of fans products with better quality. These products may be kept in their rooms, on their desks, become their daily wear or souvenir gifts.”
“We believe that the brand of sports properties should have higher and deeper value, in this E-commerce consumption era”, Jin Ye added, “what we can do, is digging in depth, combining souvenir collection with daily life, to bring fans a strong connection to their favorite clubs or teams.” AFA China e-commerce has ever launched sapphire necklaces, silk scarves for female fans, and shirts that can adapt to workplace for male fans. Nowadays, people like to show their hobbies in daily life, not just watching games or participating in activities. This might be an era of voting with consumption, and it seems that Chinese sports consumers hope to get more and better fans products.
What also amazed us is that last month, Argentine Football Association announced, they are working with Ali, a well-known Chinese cartoon figure, to be the promotion ambassador of Argentine national football team in China. It might help more Chinese people to buy AFA products, even they are not fans. “Actually, many of our consumers are not fans. They perhaps purchase for their family or friends, and most of them just love our design!” Jin Ye told us, “We analyzed the psychology of Chinese sports fans and did investigation in the entire Chinese E-commerce market. People love to see the combination of their favorite brands and popular trends, to bring them products with beautiful design. People who are not fans also like high-quality products with sports elements, which makes them feel unique and brings them a close connection with the glory of the club. That’s why we built a professional team of designers with very high aesthetic and design capabilities, to design the products with the latest Chinese trend and technology, so that our products can be attractive to anybody who sees them.”
ASP has put design, production, sales and logistics all in China, and make the business mode succeed for their clients. However, when we talked with ASP, they think that what they have done is far more than creating the mode. They told us, E-commerce is a more complex system, especially in China. And E-commerce industry is full of details, opportunities and also big challenges. “The supply chain, consumer psychology, design trends and sales methods are changing at any time. Only do fully preparation, humble studying and continuous investment, can we help our clients achieve new success.” Jin Ye said, “We hope more global sports clubs can work with us and get the real prosperity in Chinese E-commerce market. We know that some of them may have wanted to develop E-commerce in China, and we hope to convey our confidence to them. In this rapid developing E-commerce era, there are numerous challenges in the great opportunities, and we are ready for them.”