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German brands: “Chinese e-commerce platforms add wings to our products”

(People's Daily Online)    13:23, May 28, 2019

Alipay's logo is seen at the checkout counters of a ROSSMANN store. (People's Daily/Li Qiang)

“Chinese e-commerce platforms have added wings to our products,” said Eduard R. Dörrenberg, CEO of one of the largest German cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies Dr. Wolff Group, explaining how the incredible development of China’s e-commerce platforms has significantly boosted sales of German consumer products.

Last year, Dr. Wolff Group saw its profits in China triple from 2017. According to Dörrenberg, the Chinese market has not only contributed greatly to the revenues of Dr. Wolff Group, but also boosted the company’s course of digitalization.

Raoul Rossmann, CEO of ROSSMANN, the second largest drug store chain in Germany, shared Dörrenberg’s view about China’s e-commerce development, saying that “the pace and progress of China’s e-commerce development amazes us. The combination of social media, payment services, and e-commerce is much more advanced than that of Germany. This helps us see more clearly Germany’s potential for digital transformation.”

In April 2017, ROSSMANN introduced Alipay, China’s leading payment platform into the payment system of the company thereby becoming Alipay’s largest client in Germany. The logo of Alipay, the first app adopted by the company that enables people to pay by scanning a QR code with a mobile phone, is now seen at the checkout counters of more than 2,100 ROSSMANN stores.

“ROSSMANN is a positive example of the integration of online and offline transactions. A Chinese can check the online stores for information about our products before he or she travels to Germany, and then people can buy products and pay via Alipay at our offline stores when they are in Germany,” said Karl Wehner, head of Alibaba’s Germany office.

“‘Made in Germany’ usually stands for high quality and safety, which helps win the trust of Chinese consumers,” said Wehner, disclosing that “if we see demand for the products of a European brand in the Chinese market, we will try to approach that brand for cooperation.”

Alibaba opened its office in Germany in 2015 and started to approach the two German giants, Dr. Wolff Group and ROSSMANN to discuss cooperation. Before that, the Chinese market, though seemingly great, was far away from Germany.

In fact, before opening online stores on China’s e-commerce platforms, many products of Dr. Wolff Group and ROSSMANN had already attracted a large number of customers in China, owing much to people who work as daigou, cross-border personal shoppers who buy goods in foreign countries and then resell them in China.

Chinese consumers have shown increasing demand for high-quality import goods, and products created by Dr. Wolff Group and ROSSMANN can exactly meet such aspiration, according to Wehner, expressing that fine e-commerce platforms of China have been a bridge between German products and the Chinese market.

In the latter half of 2016, online flagship stores of ROSSMANN and Alpecin, a shampoo brand of Dr. Wolff Group, were opened on Alibaba’s Tmall, one of the most popular online shopping platforms in China.

During the Singles’ Day, a global shopping spree seen last year, sales of Alpecin reached a record high of 60,000 bottles within 24 hours, while ROSSMANN launched sales promotions in its online Chinese stores and offline German stores at the same time, posting 2,000 Singles’ Day promotion-themed ads on German streets.

Today, for every three bottles of Alpecin sold in the world, one goes to Asia, with China being a critical channel. Dr. Wolff Group now works in cooperation with over 30 Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Tmall,, and Vipshop. Shanghai is one of the four regional headquarters of Dr. Wolff Group.

In last year’s China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Alibaba announced that it will import $200 billion worth of products in the coming five years, noting that Germany was among the top five sources of imports.

With annual active users reaching 636 million, more than the total population of the European Union, Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce conglomerate, has the strength to realize such a goal, which means infinite possibilities for such German local companies as ROSSMANN and Dr. Wolff Group. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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