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China’s E-Commerce: New Zealand’s gateway to Chinese consumers

Trade Advice

By Ken Ma, Business Development Manager (Asia Pacific), Alibaba Group

China’s business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce market continued to boom in 2013, rising 65 percent over the previous year to hit RMB 66.6 billion (NZ$12.4 billion) in value of goods transacted, according to recent iResearch data. China will take in more than six of every 10 dollars spent on e-commerce in Asia-Pacific this year, according to eMarketer, and as more of China comes online, the country will take nearly three-quarters of regional spending by 2017.

With more and more of Chinese consumers buying online, and the country being New Zealand's second-largest trading partner, more and more local businesses are looking for ways to offer products into China. China’s leading B2C shopping website, accounting for more than 50 percent of China’s B2C platform market in 2013 according to iResearch, Tmall.com, is offering online solutions for New Zealand businesses to benefit from the rapidly growing e-commerce market in China.

E-commerce offers a way for overseas producers to help fill the gap by selling directly to consumers. The most recent example of efforts of getting New Zealand products into the hands of Chinese consumers was in a joint promotion with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) for a fresh seafood online sales promotion. NZTE, Tmall.com and supply chain manager Oceanus worked together to deliver thousands of fresh, live seafood orders within 72 hours to Chinese households across the country. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers.

Chinese consumers, especially those who live beyond Beijing and Shanghai, lack access to high quality, fresh and nutritious imported food products. Tmall.com enables suppliers from around the world to tap into the currently unmet demand in China, and Tmall.com users are able to purchase cherries from the U.S., king crab from Chile or kiwi fruit from New Zealand at affordable prices, much of the time at below the cost of what they would be charged in Chinese supermarkets.

New Zealand Businesses who benefit from e-commerce are not limited to the agricultural sector, however. The demand for foreign products in China is growing exponentially and foreign firms are looking for ways to reach consumers – including going online. New Zealand brands who have already embraced Tmall.com as part of their China strategy include health products company Comvita and leading supermarket chain Countdown.

To help local businesses better understand how they can gain access to China’s growing consumer base, New Zealand Post and New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA), together with NZTE and Export NZ, will be offering a series of seminars in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from May 6-9, 2014.

Tmall.com will present their new cross-border e-commerce solution, Tmall Global, for New Zealand based companies to sell to Chinese consumers, while NZ Post will help companies understand how they can best optimize their business objectives in collaboration with Tmall.com. NZCTA members and non-members can register at www.nzcta.co.nz/events.