More Chinese consumers buy imported goods online during Spring Festival

A growing number of Chinese consumers are embracing online shopping for imported goods, with four out of 10 people buying Spring Festival gifts online, according to an online shopping portal.
A growing number of Chinese consumers are embracing online shopping for imported goods, with four out of 10 people buying Spring Festival gifts online, according to an online shopping portal.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In the next few days, Ms Lin Li will receive biscuits from Japan, dried cranberries from the United States and French red wine at her home in Kunming, Yunnan province.

Thanks to the rapid growth of e-commerce, Ms Lin, a white-collar worker, did not have to leave her home; she simply placed an order online with her mobile phone.

"These products are of high quality and cheap. When I was studying abroad, I often (brought home) cosmetics, handbags and electronic devices for my relatives and friends," said Ms Lin, 32.

Apart from buying gifts for her parents for Spring Festival, Ms Lin also went online to buy cosmetics from France, wine from Australia and fashionable clothing from Japan for herself.

She is among the growing number of Chinese consumers who are embracing online shopping for imported goods, including food, alcohol, jewellery and cosmetics, during Spring Festival.

Foreign products now account for 63 per cent of Spring Festival purchases, with the demand from second-tier cities soaring.

Chocolates made in Belgium, olive oil from Spain, nuts from the US and Australian oatmeal are especially popular, driving up global sales of food in the past month by 60 per cent over the previous 30-day period, according to Shanghai-based Ymatou.com, an online platform dedicated to selling imported products to Chinese shoppers.

Four out of 10 people now shop for Spring Festival gifts online and choose to have their shopping delivered directly to their parents through couriers, according to Ymatou.com

With this trend in mind, cross-border e-commerce players are enticing Chinese consumers who wish to add a touch of luxury to their Spring Festival shopping with a wide range of authentic and high-quality overseas products as well as quick delivery services.

Ymatou.com, for instance, kicked off a Spring Festival shopping carnival for overseas products from Jan 15 to 17.

The company said customers were able to buy more than 800,000 imported goods from 83 countries, including clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, fine jewellery and health care products. It took five days, on average, for Chinese shoppers to have their purchases delivered.

Amazon.com began a month-long Spring Festival sales drive on Jan 22, offering consumers millions of international selections, exclusive offers and compelling deals.

The sales drive includes deals from Amazon China, the US, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany for the first time, covering 210,000 international brands from 30 hot categories.

Chinese consumers' demand for premium brands and high-quality imported products has been growing, said Mr Zeng Bibo, founder and chief executive officer of Ymatou.com. He added that consumers from second- and third-tier cities are increasingly willing to buy overseas products.

Ms Zhang Mengqi, an employee from Chongqing, is an example. She recently spent 34,000 yuan (S$7,073) on a Delvaux Brillant's red handbag purchased from Ymatou. The original price for the handbag can be as high as 50,000 yuan in the domestic market.

Higher income has allowed consumers to pursue a quality lifestyle, said analyst Lyu Haoze at the China E-Commerce Research Centre. And younger consumers are more interested in buying overseas brands.

China's cross-border online shopping grew 23.5 per cent to 6.3 trillion yuan in sales in 2016, 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 foreign-based websites or through third parties.