Cross-border e-com­merce takes off in new dig­i­tal era

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­

Nov 11, or the Sin­gles Day, the on­line shop­ping fes­ti­val in­vented by Alibaba, is just days away, and I can’t wait to see what form this year’s buy-buy-buy ma­nia will take.

I’m cer­tain about one thing though. On the sec­ond Sun­day of Novem­ber, Chi­nese con­sumers will chase for­eign brands as if there were no to­mor­row.

On­line mar­ket­places such as Taobao, Tmall, JD and Ama­zon will pull out all the stops to give 11-11 a global char­ac­ter.

They will do so for a good rea­son. China’s cross-border e-com­merce sec­tor has been grow­ing rapidly over the past few years. It grew 23.5 per­cent to 6.3 tril­lion yuan ($914 bil­lion) in sales last year, ac­cord­ing to iiMe­dia Re­search, a mar­ket con­sul­tancy.

Mar­ket re­searcher eMar­keter es­ti­mates that by 2020, a quar­ter of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion, or more than half of China’s dig­i­tal buy­ers, will be shop­ping for cross-border prod­ucts, ei­ther di­rectly on for­eign­based web­sites or through third-party e-des­ti­na­tions.

The rea­son for such stu­pen­dous growth is sim­ple: mid­dle-in­come Chi­nese shop­pers have been buy­ing in­creas­ingly di­ver­si­fied and per­son­al­ized high-qual­ity goods man­u­fac­tured over­seas.

On­line re­tail­ers are wooing these mil­lions of af­flu­ent con­sumers with a wide range of au­then­tic and high­qual­ity over­seas prod­ucts.

tril­lion yuan

Al­though I don’t con­sider my­self af­flu­ent, I of­ten browse Red, known in Chi­nese as Xiao­hong­shu, a Shang­hai-based e-com­merce startup’s app that of­fers tips on over­seas shop­ping.

Just by brows­ing, I gather use­ful in­for­ma­tion about fash­ion and shop­ping trends. That helps when I go shop­ping for for­eign brands.

Red pub­lishes in­ter­est­ing shop­ping sto­ries, prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions and buy­ing tips. I read them even when I don’t have over­seas travel plans on my sched­ule.

Red was set up in 2013 to con­nect Chi­nese con­sumers with over­seas sell­ers. It helped create a com­mu­nity where trust and shar­ing are the hall­marks.

Red ini­tially be­gan with the ob­jec­tive of help­ing out­bound Chi­nese trav­el­ers to share their shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences on­line.

Soon, it mor­phed into a so­cial com­merce site. It be­gan sell­ing in­ter­na­tional lux­ury brands and soughtafter for­eign prod­ucts.

Red’s owner re­lies on word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing, and lets its users share pho­tos of prod­ucts they bought, shop­ping tips and over­seas shop­ping sto­ries on­line.

It has inked part­ner­ships with Cosme, Ja­pan’s largest on­line cos­met­ics shop­ping site, and Kirindo, the largest drug­store and phar­macy chain in Ja­pan.

About 80 per­cent of its users are younger than 30. And 90 per­cent are well-ed­u­cated women pur­su­ing a life­style that has ac­cent on qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices.

Apart from Red, US-based tech be­he­moth Ama­zon is lur­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese buy­ers to buy for­eign prod­ucts. Its Ama­zon Global Store cov­ers top des­ti­na­tions of out­bound Chi­nese con­sumers, in­clud­ing the United States, the United King­dom, Ja­pan and Ger­many.

Ama­zon said Chi­nese con­sumers would en­joy au­then­tic deals from over­seas mar­kets and be able to buy gen­uine prod­ucts di­rectly from Ama­zon’s over­seas ful­fill­ment cen­ters.

The prod­ucts sold on Ama­zon in­clude some of the most pop­u­lar items like Nine West shoes, Go­diva choco­lates, Lego blocks and Ri­mowa lug­gage.

Shang­hai-based Yma­tou pro­vides a more di­ver­si­fied cross-border shop­ping ser­vice. The com­pany rec­om­mends af­ford­able qual­ity prod­ucts to cus­tomers by uti­liz­ing big data tech­nol­ogy and an­a­lyz­ing com­mod­ity sales, user rat­ings, brands’ in­flu­ence and price in­for­ma­tion.

It’s clear de­mand for in­ter­na­tional brands is ris­ing rapidly in China, thanks to cross-border on­line shop­ping, which is prob­a­bly one of the fastest-grow­ing trends in e-com­merce.

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