The Rundown: Costco in Taichung, Eslite Expansion, and ShopeePay Taiwan

Photo: Costco Taiwan

A bi-weekly snapshot of Taiwan business news stories brought to you by CommonWealth and AmCham Taipei’s TOPICS

Costco unveils second Taichung location

The grand opening of American multinational retailer Costco’s 14th Taiwan location place on November 20. Costco’s new outlet, the second to be opened in Taichung, is unique for specializing in yachts and designer bags. The company confirmed that its entire inventory of yachts priced at NT$1.58 million, Hermès Kelly leather handbags costing NT$59,999, and Chanel purses with a price tag of NT$99,999 were sold out.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Costco Senior Vice President of Asia Richard Chang said that the new store’s sale of luxury products is a world first for the company. “Taichung’s market is big and consumption here is strong,” Chang said, adding that the store’s convenient location will attract consumers from the nearby areas of Miaoli and the outlying Fengyuan District in the northern part of city.

Eslite continues aggressive expansion overseas

Photo: Eslite

Taiwanese book and lifestyle retailer Eslite Bookstore opened its fifth Hong Kong location on November 20. Located in the upscale D‧PARK shopping mall in the Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong’s new territories, the new store represents a concerted push by the company to expand overseas.

Last September, the company opened its first Japan outlet in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. Lately, it has announced plans to cooperate with the Malaysian hospitality group YTL to launch a shop at YTL’s The Starhill department store in Kuala Lumpur, its first location in Southeast Asia. The store is expected to open 2022.

At a November 17 press conference, Wu Ming-chieh emphasized that Eslite cannot afford to lose any more money, and that only by making a steady profit can the company start dreaming bigger. Eslite conducted research of the Malaysian market from 2016 to 2017, yet YTL only this year saw a market opportunity for Eslite’s experiential retail model. Eslite will be given preferential rent and other conditions.

In addition to its overseas expansion efforts, Eslite has for the past three years gradually developed its omnichannel services in Taiwan. In September, it released a new mobile app and a refurbished e-commerce platform will go online in December.

Asian e-commerce heavyweights explore fintech

Photo: ShoppeePay Taiwan

On November 18, the Financial Supervisory Commission announced that it had approved ShopeePay Taiwan Co.’s application to provide electronic payment services to Taiwanese consumers. The company, a subsidiary of Singaporean e-commerce giant Shopee, now has six months to apply for an operating license from the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Sales on Shopee’s online shopping platform last year reached an average of NT$3.1 billion per day. If its operating license is approved, ShopeePay will be able to act as an agent to collect and distribute payments from actual transactions, receive stored value deposits, and oversee transactions between users. It would become the sixth dedicated e-payment company to operate in Taiwan.

Although Shopee is headquartered in Singapore, it has previously come under scrutiny in Taiwan for the involvement of Chinese capital. The FSC indicated that ShopeePay is wholly owned by Singapore-based Seamoney (Payment) TW Private Ltd., the parent company of which is the NYSE-listed Sea Ltd. While Chinese tech giant Tencent is a major shareholder in Sea Ltd., the FSC argued that it does not qualify as a Chinese company.

Meanwhile, PChome Chief Strategy Officer Bruce Chou has indicated that the Taiwanese e-commerce platform will continue to launch new fintech services. It currently provides personal lending services and plans to introduce insurance and cross-border e-payment services in 2021.

Chou noted that one of PChome’s competitive strengths has been its collection of member and consumer data over the past two decades. In Q3 this year, non-repeat visits to the platform averaged 15 million per month, equal to 60% of Taiwan’s total population.

E-commerce has been one of the biggest beneficiaries about heightened concerns about in-person shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PChome’s consolidated revenue for Q3 was NT$31.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 14%. After-tax net profit was NT$207 million, up 80% from the previous year.