May 8 - ShopRunner's deal with Alibaba will give American retailers a new way to enter the Chinese market. Fred Katayama reports.
U.S. retailers will soon have a new way to get into that hard-to-crack market, China. ShopRunner told Reuters its deal with Alibaba will allow its retail partners to use Alibaba's infrastructure to sell to Chinese consumers. The two e-commerce companies plan to create a "joint brand" in China. ShopRunner is a rival of Amazon. Its members pay to get free two-day shipping and buy online from hundreds of stores ranging from Toys 'R Us to Brooks Brothers. It is 39 percent owned by Alibaba, which filed this week for what could become the largest ever U.S. public debut. Alibaba will offer some Chinese customers free memberships to ShopRunner. Shoppers will get their goods ten days after ordering online. They'll have to pay for shipping costs, though. Many American retailers have paid dearly in the past, stumbling as they tried to go it alone in the Chinese market. Home Depot closed their stores there. Revlon withdrew. ShopRunner is puny compared to Amazon with just over a million members. But this move to get a piece of the action in the world's second largest economy could fuel its growth.