Photo: Tony Hou.
China’s e-commerce market is not only the world’s largest; it’s growing at an astounding rate and presents an enormous, and largely untapped, opportunity for New Zealand producers and manufacturers.
According to a recent study by Neilsens , almost 30 percent of China’s urban shoppers are already shopping offshore. They’re not just searching for good deals – they’re also looking for variety, quality and a better shopping experience in everything from personal care and supplements, to pet food and fresh produce.
Demand for foreign goods is rapidly growing and China’s Ministry of Commerce expects cross-border e-commerce trade to hit US$1 trillion later this year.
So how can New Zealand producers and manufacturers get a slice of the action?
Before you start investigating payment gateways and distribution options, consider marketing and selling your products to the Chinese community within New Zealand. This will give you some insights into how your product is likely to be received in China.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead, there are two options:
1. Sell your products through your existing New Zealand-based website.
You will need to create website content appropriate for the Chinese market and introduce a Chinese payment gateway system, such as Alipay or Wechat. Goods can be dispatched when the order is placed.
While this is a low cost option, you will need to invest in marketing your products direct to consumers, through search engines like baidu.com and social media platforms such as Wechat.
One downside is the delay in getting the goods to the consumer. Internet shopping is not only changing the way people shop, it’s also raising consumer expectations in terms of delivery and convenience.
2. Market and sell your products through existing e-commerce platforms in China, such as tmall.com or vip.com.
A specialist agency will design, build and run your e-commerce shop for you. Products are shipped in bulk to a third party warehouse in China’s Free Trade Zone, from where goods are dispatched to the consumer on your behalf.
Using existing e-commerce platforms exposes your products to a wider audience of consumers. In addition to SEO marketing, there are opportunities to market your goods within the platform, for example, by paying a fee to have your products prominently featured on the home page.
A successful example of the latter approach took place in 2014, when a joint promotion between NZTE, e-commerce platform Tmall.com and supply chain manager Oceanus saw thousands of Chinese consumers purchasing live seafood fresh from New Zealand waters. Paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters were then packaged and airfreighted to Shanghai, landing in shoppers’ hands within 72 hours.
Did you know? China has its very own internet forum.
Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website. Akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, it is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30% of Internet users, with a market penetration similar to the United States' Twitter. It was launched by SINA Corporation on 14 August 2009, and has 503 million registered users as of December 2012. About 100 million messages are posted each day on Sina Weibo.
Baidu incorporated on January 18, 2000, is a Chinese web services company headquartered at the Baidu Campus in Beijing's Haidian District. Baidu offers many services, including a Chinese language-search engine for websites, audio files and images. In December 2007, Baidu became the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 index.
Tony Hou is CEO of Moustache Republic, a leading Australasian Ecommerce provider based in Auckland. www.moustacherepublic.com