by Stephen Garner

Italian luxury footwear and accessories brand Santoni has entered the Chinese market with a digital strategy involving the opening of a flagship store on Tmall, part of Alibaba Group and leading B2C marketplace in China reaching over 750 million active consumers annually.

On February 1st, Santoni’s digital flagship store on Tmall opened, as a first important move to expand the brand’s footprint in a competitive market such as China, partnering with the Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform. The new online store features Santoni’s men’s and women’s collections of refined and modern shoes and leather goods, crafted by the cultured and passionate hands of the Italian masters of the brand.

The first capsule collection created for Santoni digital channels in China is the Ox collection: a selection of sneakers, backpack, and leather goods created to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the most important Chinese festival to be celebrated on February 12th this year.

“We are delighted to have an iconic brand like Santoni joining Tmall, and to be able to offer our hundreds of million consumers in China another representative of the ‘Made in Italy’ excellence and tradition,” said Christina Fontana, head of Tmall luxury in Europe and U.S. “Despite the challenging times, we continue to see a growing appetite in China for heritage luxury brands and products, and we think Santoni’s offering is well-positioned to tap into this demand, expanding their presence and telling another great story of Italian craftsmanship and creativity.”

This digital-first strategy, settled to introduce Santoni to the Chinese luxury public and to let the brand resonate into the high-end young community of top spenders, will be followed by a brick-and-mortar development in the next three years.

Santoni has also opened its official account on WeChat, the largest social media app in China. The account will collect all the already existing community of Santoni lovers in China and will expand it further, with a modern and engaging storytelling about the values of a brand that perfectly represents the Italian heritage and culture, while offering an individual way of experiencing the amazing collections.

Santoni official WeChat account is set to feature also another exclusive functionality in order to expand the business: an online store hosted on WeChat, a “sub-application” that allows WeChat users to buy the hot pieces from the label’s collections and the most exclusives capsule collections, tailored to the Chinese consumer.

Santoni CEO Giuseppe Santoni said of the new move: “Asia is key to Santoni’s global strategy and success. This partnership with Tmall will allow us to reach the Chinese customers, engage them with our authentic story of legacy and excellence, and let them love our brand, in an innovative and engaging way. I also believe that to create a growing community on WeChat and a constant dialogue with it is the key to offer a seamless customer journey in the market. The pandemic has accelerated this move that was already in our plans, and that has been developed in a record time of 4 months, while the standard is around 12 months, setting the first step of a real and concrete digital transformation of my company. This has been possible thanks to the cooperation with strategic and carefully selected partners, most of all with Alibaba’s teams in Europe.”