The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will launch a flagship store in Alibaba’s Tmall on May 10, Sina News reports. The online store will feature more than 50 products, including kitchen aprons, tableware, picture frames, umbrellas, and more products.
This is the Met’s first official store in China, following the British Museum’s arrival on Tmall last July. The London-based museum’s Tmall portal was a smash hit, attracting over 150,000 followers in less than a month, and selling out of inventory in a matter of days.
A number of other museums—including homegrown establishments like the Palace Museum and National Museum in Beijing, Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an, the Shanghai Museum, and others— have opened similar shops on Tmall.
These museums sell merchandise, souvenirs, and trinkets in a bid to capitalize on growing demand from Chinese consumers for cultural and creative products. Wang Fei, head of Tmall’s cultural and creative division, said searches for “museums” on Tmall and Taobao grew 215% between January and October 2018 compared with the same period in 2016.
Altogether, the museum stores on Tmall have a combined follower base of more than five million, and the two most popular stores attract more than ten million visitors a year, on par with the number of annual visits to the world’s most popular museum, the Louvre.
Consumer spending in China in the first quarter of 2019 reached RMB 9.78 trillion (USD 1.45 trillion), up 8.3% year-on-year, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, in 2018, online sales of consumer goods accounted for over 18% of total retail sales in China, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.