Alibaba's retail marketplaces president Jeff Zhang, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, DHL eCommerce CEO Thomas Kipp and Bayern EB member Jorg Wacker pose for group photo on May 27 in Beijing. (Xinhua/Zheng Daojin)
BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Newly crowned German champion Bayern Munich will open a store on China's largest on-line retail platform when the club announced the cooperation with e-commerce giant Alibaba here on Wednesday.
The club, believed to have about 90 million fans in China, will sell jerseys and a variety of fan merchandise ranging from genuine apparel for men, women and children as well as other goods including traditional German and Bavarian products of the football team in the store that is set up on Tmall, the business-to-customer platform of Alibaba.
After placing orders, Fans can receive the products in 8 to 10 days delivered by DHL.
As one of the most prestigious clubs in the world, Bayern has sped up its pace to mine China's large soccer market.
"I am glad that we will be moving closer to our huge Chinese fan base. Making our fan merchandise accessible is crucial to connect with our fans in China," said club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Jorg Wacker, executive board member of Internationalization and Strategy of Bayern, admitted that China always has been a very attractive market.
"China continues to be our key focus market and plays an important role in our internationalization strategy," he said, adding that he was deeply impressed by Alibaba's stunning 57.1 billion yuan (nine billion U.S. dollars) in sales on China's Singles' Day last year.
The final sales number of 57.1 billion yuan (nine billion U.S. dollars) flashes on a big screen in Alibaba's headquarter in Hangzhou after China's shopping spree day Singles' Day that falls on Nov. 11. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)
The shopping day, falling on Nov. 11 similar to Cyber Monday and Black Friday in the United States, saw an explosion of the buying power of the Chinese consumers.
Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba's retail marketplaces, believed "it will help Bayern gain easier access to their 90 million Chinese fans by leveraging Alibaba's 350 million users".
Bayern was just one of the top clubs who started to shift their focus to China, a country with 1.3 billion population.
According to a study by Shay Digital Sports in September 2014, 32 European football clubs have established a presence on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter. Among these clubs, 10 from the Italian Serie A, seven each from the Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga and English Premier League.
And four of the 18 Bundesliga clubs - Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke and SV Hamburg - have Chinese language versions of their main websites.
These clubs don't just make themselves available online. They actually travel to China for pre-season training camps and friendly matches.
In July, Bayern will play three friendlies against Inter Milan, Valencia and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Last summer, SV Hamburg and Werder Bremen both spent about a week in China with schedules full of sponsorship meetings, pre-season training, friendly matches against Chinese Super League teams and chances for Chinese fans to see their favorite players live and in person.