Alipay, the Shanghai-based mobile payments platform, announced Monday its platform is available to Neiman Marcus Group retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Last Call, according to an Alipay statement emailed to Retail Dive.
Alipay is currently available at 43 Neiman Marcus locations, 24 Neiman Marcus Last Call stores and two Bergdorf Goodman stores in the U.S. Using the Alipay platform, the stores can service international travelers who come to America and primarily rely on mobile payments tools to complete transactions, the company said in a statement.
When users make purchases with the app, they can skip foreign credit card transaction fees and use its geo-location-based "Discover" function and push notifications to locate nearby merchants active on the platform and get news about promotions, per the company's statement.
Adding Neiman Marcus Group retailers to the Alipay platform is yet another way Alipay is maneuvering into the American market; the company has had mixed results so far. In recent years, the company has also partnered with other U.S. firms like Walgreens and J.P. Morgan Chase, but Walmart swapped out Alipay for WeChat in its Western China locations last year.
Beyond expanding its portfolio of American retailers, the move appears to be aimed at Chinese shoppers who want to avoid transaction fees while shopping in the U.S. According to Nielsen's 2018 Trends for Mobile Payment in Chinese Outbound Tourism, 58% of merchants respondents said that their foot traffic went up after integrating Alipay, and 56% indicated an uptick in turnover in 2018. Of course, the report, which Alipay cited in its statement, makes no mention of WeChat, an Alipay competitor which has also been collaborating with other companies to broaden its North American footprint.
"This is exactly the kind of strategic partnership that will greatly benefit Chinese consumers — expats, tourists, and students — who come to the U.S. to sightsee, explore, and shop," Yulei Wang, general manager of Alipay North America, said in a company statement.
While the partnership with Alipay could be an indication that Neiman Marcus is trying new things to stand out in a difficult sector, the department store's third quarter earnings showed that there's still work to do. Total revenues in the quarter fell to $1.06 billion from $1.17 billion a year ago. Comparable sales fell 1.5% year over year, after a 7.3% gain a year ago.