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UK ranks first in Europe for Chinese shoppers during Golden Week

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UK ranks first in Europe for Chinese shoppers during Golden Week

Alipay data reveals the UK processed the highest volume of Alipay transactions in EMEA during the Chinese national holiday 

Data released today from Alipay – the world’s largest mobile payment and lifestyle platform – reveals Chinese tourists made double the number of shopping transactions overseas during Golden Week 2018 (October 1-7) than in 2017.

The UK was the most popular country in EMEA for shopping by Chinese tourists during Golden Week, jumping from second to first place in EMEA in terms of the highest volume of Alipay transactions, coming ahead of Germany, France and Italy. Total transaction volume in the UK during Golden Week 2018 increased by 3.5 times, compared to the previous year.

UK spend, meanwhile, accounted for 15% of Chinese tourist Golden Week spend across all EMEA – shoppers using Alipay spent an average of £281 in the UK during the week, which amounted to more than the global average.

Golden Week, a Chinese national holiday, traditionally sees millions of Chinese tourists travel and shop abroad, providing retailers with a prime opportunity to increase sales.

For Golden Week 2018, Alipay partnered with a number of retailers to develop specific marketing tactics tailored to Chinese shoppers and enable retailers to embrace mobile payments.

This included Bicester Village – the second most visited destination by Chinese tourists in the UK, after Buckingham Palace. As part of the partnership, more than half of Bicester Village stores became “Alipay-enabled”, including Burberry, Coach, Gucci, Prada and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Figures show that average spend by Alipay users during Golden Week was over 50% higher in Bicester Village, than across the whole of the UK. This makes Bicester Village the number one outlet in the world in terms of total spending value during Golden Week. Bicester Village also ranked third in global transaction volume during the Chinese national holiday.

Additionally, for the first time outside China, Alipay launched its unique in-app order-and-pay service in London Chinatown restaurants in time for Golden Week. This proved a popular destination, with 7.5% of all Alipay transactions in the UK taking place in London Chinatown.

Alipay’s data also proves mobile payments are not just for millennials; the number of overseas Alipay users in their 50s doubled during Golden Week 2018 compared to last year.

Worldwide, Alipay users spent an average of £220 during the holiday period this year, up 30% from last year, and  EMEA countries dominated the global list of the top 10 in terms of highest total spend per user.

Head of Alipay, EMEA, Roland Palmer, said:

“Europe is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination for Chinese consumers. We have seen strong growth in spend increases during this year’s Golden Week, particularly in France, Italy, the UK and Germany.

“The UK is performing really well in the region and coming first in Europe this year in terms of number of transactions is very encouraging for local retailers.

“At Alipay, we’re working with many merchants in the region, including retailers and hospitality and entertainment providers to offer Chinese tourists a seamless travel and payment experience when travelling overseas.

“Interestingly, the number of overseas Alipay users aged in their 50s doubled during Golden Week this year compared to last year. This proves that it’s not just millennials who want the speed and personalisation of mobile payments; all generations are starting to adopt a mostly cashless lifestyle.”

As part of the holiday, Alipay also launched a lucky draw campaign with more than 3 million participants, which received more than 230 million views on social media for Alipay and its merchant partners. The lucky winner received gifts and rewards offered by hundreds of Alipay’s merchant partners from across the globe, and will be able to redeem items during her overseas travels around the world over the next year.

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China’s factory activity growth likely moderated during February holiday lull – Reuters poll

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China's factory activity growth likely moderated during February holiday lull - Reuters poll 1

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity likely grew at a slightly slower rate in February as factories closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, a Reuters poll showed, although growth is expected to remain firm, buoyed by an early resumption of production.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) is expected to dip marginally to 51.1 in February from 51.3 in January, according to the median forecast of 20 economists polled by Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity on a monthly basis.

Chinese factories typically scale back operations or close for lengthy periods around the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in the middle of February this year.

However, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the winter had prompted local governments and companies to dissuade workers from travelling back to their hometowns, giving a boost to the earlier-than-usual resumption of production at many factories, analysts say.

“Although government COVID-19 prevention measures may constrain some manufacturing activities in the near-term, the fact that a majority of migrant workers stayed in their workplace cities for the holiday should facilitate an earlier resumption of business activity following the holiday this year,” said analysts at Nomura in a note to client on Thursday.

Wang Zhishen, a migrant worker from Gansu, told Reuters that his factory, a manufacturer of logistics boxes in the manufacturing hub of Dongguan, only closed for three days during the holiday, thanks to overwhelming businesses. Lured by the 1,500-yuan cash subsidy his factory offered, he chose to work through the holiday.

The Chinese economy has largely shaken off the gloom from the COVID-19 health crisis, with consumers opening up their wallets after months of hesitation. Growth is now set to rebound sharply this quarter, also helped by the low base effect of a year ago.

The country has successfully curbed the domestic transmission of the COVID-19 virus in northern China, with the national health authority reporting zero new local cases for the 11th straight day. Cities that were on lockdown have since vowed to push for a work resumption at full speed.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, and its sister survey on the services sector, will both be released on Sunday.

The private Caixin manufacturing PMI will be published on Monday. Analysts expect the headline reading will dip slightly to 51.4 from 51.5 in January.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green

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Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green 2

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell in Germany aims to produce aviation fuel and naphtha made from crops and to increase to commercial scale an electrolysis plant that makes fossil-free hydrogen, as it seek to move away from crude oil.

The energy major told an online conference on Friday it had applied for subsidies to carry out the work from the European Union and from German funds earmarked for decarbonisation. It did not give detail on the expected cost.

The global Shell group has set itself a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

At Wesseling, part of the Rheinland refinery complex, it plans to use green electricity to produce synthetic, carbon-free, power-to-liquids (ptl) to replace its conventional jet fuel and naphtha output, building a ptl plant from 2023 and starting production in 2025.

The ptl plant can also use wood as biomass input.

Hydrogen is also considered a green fuel when electricity from renewable energy is used in its production.

Shell said last September it will set up offshore wind farms to provide power and on Friday it said it could also start building a 100 MW electrolysis plant, to be called Refhyne II, from 2022, scaling up from a 10 megawatt plant.

“The product portfolio of the location clearly must change,” said Fabian Ziegler, head of Shell Deutschland.

To further the shift to clean transport in Germany, Shell also plans to equip petrol filling stations with electric car charging points.

Shell is already the owner of German solar battery maker sonnen. On Thursday, it said it has agreed to buy Cologne-based virtual power plant (VPP) operator Next Kraftwerke, Germany’s biggest VPP.

Next aggregates wind and biogas power production and markets it in balancing markets, which can help offset the unpredictable flows associated with renewable output.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis)

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Why digital must be at the top of a retailer’s strategy

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Why digital must be at the top of a retailer's strategy 3

By Chris Burnside, Account Manager, Specialty Retail, UK & Nordics Global Sales & Verticals, Worldline

COVID-19 is constantly shifting consumer shopping habits from on-site to online, meaning that eCommerce is becoming the main driver of physical retailers’ strategies. Changes in demographics, innovations in payments, and evolving customer needs, as well as the current social isolation that the nation is dealing with are all shaping the retail sector of today.

Online shopping, price-comparison search engines, online coupons and cashback deals have created a new breed of consumers. These shoppers are smart, tech-savvy, hungry for deals and conduct their own research before making purchases. However, these connected customers tend to be bigger shoppers and might potentially become lifelong advocates (including via social media) to bring in more following for a specific brand.

Therefore, retailers must be well prepared to survive in these lucrative, yet challenging times as online purchases surge and consumers demand a way of paying for goods online.

Changing customer expectations

Today’s customers are becoming increasingly more omnichannel in the way they shop and expect to be dazzled by interactivity and connected services, while retaining the simplicity and seamlessness of payments. These shoppers also expect on-site shopping to allow them to mix online and in-store purchases, pick-up of purchased goods, and transparent refund and return policies.

Some retailers might ask what the benefits are of bringing in such demanding customers. However, these types of shoppers can increase a retailer’s profits substantially as they have been proven to deliver a higher value purchase track record compared to regular or smaller ticket item shoppers.

If any physical retailers are in doubt, they should simply consider the benefits that go along with becoming connected and offering their goods online. Firstly, online shopping offers a greater variety of ways to target individuals’ needs, from targeted ads and special occasions coupons to personalised gifts for shoppers that drives sales and generates new and returning customers.

The surging power of online

Chris Burnside

Chris Burnside

The other massive benefit is the ability to offer more online. Online is increasingly what more and more customers today are looking for. As more purchases are made online, brands must be mindful that physical retail space is getting increasingly more expensive, especially in top locations. Therefore, with an eCommerce model, businesses can choose a central warehouse located outside the city.

Another vital perk of going digital is the potential to establish direct engagement with your audience via social media. According to research by Facebook, more than 80% of people use Instagram to research their potential purchases and discover new trends and products.

When entering the world of eCommerce there are several challenges that retailers must plan for. These include, online fraud, a lack of local payment methods, no direct support for clients in case of issues or questions, lower authorisation rates and potential IT issues. However, a reliable partner can help mitigate these risks and help retailers to effectively design the registration flow and the checkout experience to retain paying customers and limit fraudsters’ activities.

Such providers have in-store solutions that provide a unified and safe payment flow that immerses and connects the buyer and the seller in this financial journey. It constitutes a set of comprehensive hardware and software-based solutions to open up retailers to more customers and boost their sales and conversion levels. Bridging the gap between online and physical stores by introducing digital kiosks, touch screens and VR experiences to POS transform the shops of today into the shops of the future.

The value of strong acquiring capabilities

Alongside omnichannel, it cannot be underestimated the importance of also offering effective, fast, and reliable acquiring services that are tailored to retailers needs based on regions and their risk appetite. It means the capacity to implement smart routing and switching to effectively optimise authorisation levels.

When offering their products globally, retailers must also consider the importance of having a well-thought out set of local payment methods. This is because one of the major differences between physical retail and online shopping is that once in the shop, customers are likely to pay for the products they really want whether by card or cash. Online sales, especially on local markets can be more complex. This is because they will typically choose a specific local payment method that they are accustomed to, such as BLIK in Poland, Sofort in Germany or iDEAL in the Netherlands. By not offering these, it can be a deal-breaker causing people to drop sales and search for stores that have these options at checkout.

The right acquiring capabilities, by having a global presence and massive knowledge base, can offer pre-implementation support to retail owners and guide them through the implementation process itself. Therefore, with a massive infrastructure and immense experience in the payments industry behind them, the right providers have the capacity to serve customers around the world and provide a seamless payment experience of the future, right here and right now.

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