27 November 2017, Written by David Simmons


THE Chinese e-commerce market is a holy grail for Australian manufacturers and retailers.

While the huge population and booming middle class makes the market an obvious choice for those in the retail game, there are a number of barriers slowing down Australian entrepreneurs and businesses from breaking into the market.

Regulations, import fees, and even the language barrier, are just some of the main issues and complaints Australians cite when asked about trading in China.

Despite these issues, Australia recently recorded its best ever performance at Alibaba Group's 2017 11.11 Global Shopping Festival ranking as the third highest selling country overall.

Australia's place rose from fourth place in 2016, behind only Japan and the United States. The best performing brands and categories can be found at the end of the article.

Business News Australia spoke to Maggie Zhou, Alibaba Group's Australia and New Zealand managing director, about what products do well in China, and how to break into the market.

Why are Australian brands so attractive to the Chinese market?

Australian retailers have always performed very well during 11.11 because Australian products of all varieties are hugely popular in the Chinese market. This is due to Australia's 'clean and green' reputation, and a growing Chinese market that is increasingly conscious of purchasing products that are healthy and high quality.

Most of the top 10 products are health related products, why does that sector perform so well on the platform? Is there the idea that Australian health products are of a premium quality?

A large part of Australia's success during 11.11 comes down to its reputation for 'clean and green' products. China's rapidly-growing middle class sees an increasing number of Chinese consumers seek healthy and active lifestyles. This is having an impact on what they buy when they shop online, and makes Australia a key seller market on Tmall Global.

In fact, Australia has an enviable reputation in China when it comes to products like vitamins, mother and baby, organic skin care, and fresh food. This was reflected again this year when many brands that market these products ranked in the top 10 Australian brands by gross merchandise volume (GMV), including vitamin company Swisse which ranked as the most imported brand into China by GMV.

What are some brands that are up-and coming on the platform that we should be watching out for?

This year we saw some strong success from up-and coming Australian brands during 11.11. For example, nutritional supplements company Bio Island ranked in the top five most imported brands into China by total GMV this year.

How about trends on the platform? Clearly health and food products do well, but have you noticed any other significant trends of Chinese market buying Australian?

Australian health-related products continue to perform strongly on Tmall Global in China. This year, health supplements were Australia's leading product category by GMV, followed by infant and toddler nutrition.

However we also saw some emerging product categories rank in the top ten most popular categories from Australia, including quilts and instant drinks. Other emerging Australian categories expected to perform well in the years ahead include fresh food, apparel and homewares.

What would be your number one tip to manufacturers and entrepreneurs looking to break into the Asian market?

It is important to understand that e-commerce in China is evolving rapidly, and merchants must be flexible with their strategies to succeed. This is part of the reason why we have set up a local Alibaba team in Australia and New Zealand, to help educate Australian and New Zealand businesses on how to succeed in the Chinese market.

Top ten by GMV among Chinese consumers buying cross-border from Australia

  1. Swisse
  2. Bio Island
  3. Blackmores
  4. Devondale
  5. A2
  6. Healthy Care
  7. Bellamy's
  8. Life Space
  9. Cenovis
  10. Maxigenes

Top 10 products by GMV among Chinese consumers buying cross-border from Australia:

  1. Health supplements
  2. Infant and toddler nutrition
  3. Milk powder
  4. Adult milk powder
  5. Emulsion
  6. Instant drinks
  7. Dairy products
  8. Baby care products
  9. Facial essence
  10. Quilts

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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