Customized goods thrive online in China

Customized products, ranging from T-shirts, mobile phone cases, headphone boxes and hand bags to mugs, pillows and key rings, have become increasingly popular among Chinese consumers on various e-commerce platforms.

Retailers offering customized goods on Taobao(Photo/Taobao.com)

Last year saw the emergence of a new market worth 10 billion yuan — the production of customized goods based on pictures provided by customers. Taobao, a major online shopping destination in China, is home to more than 100,000 retailers offering customized goods and 10 million kinds of these commodities.

“Even a niche market of mobile phone data cables with personalized patterns can be filled on our platform,” said Zhang Rui, head of the enterprise services division on Taobao.

Buyers of customized commodities can be divided into two categories: small and medium-sized enterprises or individuals. The first type of consumers usually order such products for large-scale activities such as new project openings, team-building events and annual meetings, whereas individuals place orders for graduation ceremonies, birthdays, weddings and other important occasions.

In addition to small items including mugs, calendars and pillows, customized products also involve fields such as clothing, wedding planning, automobiles and home decoration.

On an online garment customization platform, users can carry out clothing customization through the following procedure: first, select specific information such as fabric, collar type and cuff requirements , and then enter the height and weight data. They can then receive their personalized clothes within 15 working days after successfully placing an order.

“I have a great sense of achievement when I receive my clothes whose design I participated in. They fit me very well, and are very comfortable to wear,” commented a consumer on the platform.

“In the past, most buyers chose conventional styles, and the customized patterns were relatively simple. However, now they have more ideas and tend to communicate with designers multiple times in order to enhance the design,” explained Wang Hang, head of an online store that opened 14 years ago and provides custom-made clothes on Taobao.

High consumer demand for personalized products has also facilitated the upgrading of sellers’ services. Wang disclosed that his store now needs to employ more designers than before and has to use more advanced manufacturing equipment in order to reach the higher standard of craft requirements for customization.