by Marzia De Giuli
An initiative launched jointly with China’s Alibaba Group will offer key help to made-in-Italy products in entering the Chinese market, managers at Italian top banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit said on Wednesday.
“The goal is to create an easy access solution to facilitate Italian exports of small and midium-sized companies (SMEs) to China via e-commerce that has seen notable growing sales volumes in the Asian country,” Francesco Francioni, Head of Global Transaction Banking Italy at UniCredit, explained to Xinhua.
In the near future the two banking groups will establish a storefront on Tmall Global, an overseas platform and an extension of Alibaba Group’s B2C Tmall business in China, to sell the best-in-class Italian products.
The initiative, named “E-Marco Polo,” will provide Chinese consumers the direct access of selected Italian brands from the fashion, food and beverage, beauty and other sectors through cross-border e-commerce and without the need for physical operations.
The partnership with a leading e-commerce player like Alibaba was a “fundamental element” in order to be present efficiently in a market of great potential such as China, Francioni said.
The initiative followed up the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Alibaba Group and the Italian government in June 2014.
The Chinese market has surpassed the United States in terms of total retail sales via online channel and has shown a double digit growth rate over the last year as regards the online purchase of foreign goods.
“The e-commerce allows SMEs to enter the Chinese market in a certainly more cost-effective way compared to traditional channels and reach a continuously growing target of hundreds of millions of e-shoppers,” Stefano Favale, Head of SME at Intesa Sanpaolo, told Xinhua.
Favale underlined that the initiative, also thanks to the two banks’ privileged relation with SMEs, will sustain these “real engines” of the Italian economy on their path to internationalization in China, an extremely important market for them.
International brands on Tmall Global, launched in February 2014, benefit from the exposure to the hundreds of millions of visitors on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com who have access to a variety of branded products sourced and fulfilled from overseas countries outside of China.
Intesa Sanpaolo is among the top banking groups in the euro zone, with a market capitalization of 51.8 billion euros (56.8 billion U.S. dollars). It is the leader in retail, corporate and wealth management in Italy and has a presence in central eastern Europe and middle eastern and North African areas.
UniCredit is a leading European financial group serving more than 30 million clients and with commercial banking operations in 17 countries. It has the largest presence of banks in central and eastern Europe, with nearly 3,500 branches and assets of 146 billion euros (160 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem