Online platforms maintain global trade impetus

Date: 05 Aug 2020

Chinese e-commerce platforms are helping connect Chinese factories and huge global demand as the world still grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, with platforms like AliExpress gaining considerable traction in overseas markets, a new report said.

AliExpress, an online retailer which largely caters to overseas customers, is already the most popular shopping site in Latvia and Lithuania, the Ministry of Commerce said last week, citing local media reports. Local adoption rate for AliExpress, which is owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has surpassed that of Amazon and eBay in the two countries, the ministry said.

The findings were in line with a previous survey conducted by logistics firm Latvijas Pasts, which said AliExpress has been viewed by at least 83 percent of all local residents and more than two-thirds have made purchases through the platform.

"The results come at time when China is embarking on a 'dual-cycle' path connecting domestic and international economic development," said Cao Lei, director of the E-Commerce Research Center at the Internet Economy Institute.

In Spain and Italy, AliExpress saw its traffic increase by 20 percent and 14 percent respectively during the first quarter on a yearly basis, according to data from SimilarWeb.

Chinese e-commerce gameplay like livestreaming has also been making waves. Dima Romashko, a 29-year-old Ukrainian TV host for a music channel and an influencer endorsing brands on AliExpress, said changes in people's attitude toward Chinese marquees have been phenomenal.

"Earlier, many people did not trust Chinese products very much. Today the quality is rapidly rising, with Xiaomi, DJI and Huawei becoming prominent global brands, while several smaller brands have also been making their names," he said.

"I am happy about the changes because I know the quality (is good).I am also happy because I can now share such quality products with Western friends."

Shanghai-based Pinduoduo announced in late July that it was launching its National Pavilion project, and would invest to help more quality overseas brands access the Chinese market.

Unveiled on the inauguration day was the "Chile National Pavilion", attended by Chilean Ambassador to China Luis Schmidt and Pinduoduo's Vice-President Chen Qiu. Imported wine, honey, and king crabs from Chile were made available to Chinese shoppers at affordable prices.

"I have witnessed the tremendous changes brought by the Chinese economy to Chilean trade. Now we are once again experiencing a chemistry of sorts between new e-commerce and Chilean products,"Schmidt was quoted as saying in a news release issued by Pinduoduo.

A livestreaming session held on the same day was attended by 710,000 users, while product sales rose by 3.3 times on a yearly basis.

At Alibaba's outbound wholesale portal, the ability to predict customer demands using big data is turbo-charging export businesses.

"We saw sales bucking the overall gloomy trend to register 3.35 times growth on a monthly basis since March, when coronavirus-related lockdowns became more commonplace abroad," said Liu Yongya, head of international business at Yili Lingerie, an underwear producer from Guangdong province.

The site encouraged merchants to adopt a ready-to-ship model, meaning they prepare semifinished products and make last-minute adjustments based on Alibaba data about customer preferences that could differ drastically across regions.

Alibaba's outbound wholesale site saw transaction volumes grow 126 percent in June and maintained triple-digit growth in July, according to its general manager Zhang Kuo.

"Digitalization, which accelerates the turnaround of products, has become a necessity and an irreversible mega trend for foreign trade," he said.

Source: The China Internet Information Center

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