Online shoe retailer finds the right fit

Updated: 2010-12-31 14:21

By Chen Limin (China Daily)

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Online shoe retailer finds the right fit

Online shoe store,, offers a variety of brand name shoes, such as Nike Inc. [Photo / Provided to China Daily] 

BEIJING - When it comes to shoes, Bi Sheng, the founder of - an online shoe store equivalent to the popular US-based - is not short of words.

The 36-year-old, who used to be a marketing director at Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine, is among a new breed of Chinese entrepreneurs who took risks by betting on the rosy outlook of the country's e-commerce market.

"I wanted to do something different," said Bi, who started his career as a shoe seller in May 2009., a major online shoe store in China, currently has one million members and around 2,000 transactions per day.

Bi said that it's the right time to start an e-business, though it's not yet "the best of times".

"A ready market is like a stone at the top of a mountain; you just have to lightly kick it, and it will roll all the way from the top to the bottom," he said. "In China, however, most people in the e-commerce market are pushing their stones from the foot of the mountain, or still, trying to find one."

"If you run with the market, you may reach the height of a point in the explosive growth in the future," he said.

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According to Bi, managing an e-business is no easy task. "I haven't changed from a Baidu mindset to an e-business one," he said.

At one point, Bi attracted too many customers to, causing an unexpected bottleneck on its servers.

"At Baidu, all I thought about was traffic because we immediately make money from users' clicks, but in an e-business, I have to wait for several months before deals are completed. It is more than clicks," he said, adding that it's a different ballgame now that he is an online entrepreneur, which involves managing different business processes.

The website, which offers 60 shoe brands, has 6,200 kinds of shoes. Revenue is expected to reach 100 million yuan ($15 million) this year, and is projected to rise to 500 million yuan in 2011.

Describing himself as impatient, Bi is sticking to a pragmatic approach to grow his company into a considerable player in the market.

Chen Hu, vice-president of, said that the online shoe market has enough room for several retail players, although the sector is merely 1 percent of the offline shoe retail sales in China, which have reached 300 billion yuan.

The number of e-commerce websites in China is expected to reach 23,000 by the end of the year as more companies have started setting up online stores to cut costs and improve efficiency, according to China e-Business Research Center.


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