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Online shoppers in China are buying more products than ever from U.S. retailers, but what they are buying may surprise you.
When Chinese shoppers visit Alibaba’s Tmall or JD.com, instead of looking for Birken bags and Cartier watches, they are looking to buy products such as Converse, Oral-B toothbrushes, and Costco almonds, reports China Daily.
The explanation for this shift toward buying consumer goods online comes down to Chinese online shoppers’ trust in the United States’ quality control. By buying U.S. products, Chinese believe they will get a reliable and authentic product. Many Chinese online shoppers now fear buying luxury items online after Alibaba was recently accused by Chinese regulators of tolerating counterfeits on its site.
“The quality of food, medicine, and clothes is a huge concern for me when I shop in the local stores,” said 46-year-old Beijing resident Wang Lingling.
Many U.S. brands are partnering up with China’s leading e-commerce sites for access to the Chinese market.
Costco CFO Richard Galanti said that his company’s opening on Tmall was “a good way for us to test and learn.” The company launched its Tmall store in October with a limited trial-run of products, including Ziploc bags, baby wipes, and some food items.
During China’s last Singles Day, Costco’s online store tallied US$3.5 million in sales, more than the sales of seven Costcos in the United States on an average day.
After failing to attract customers, and building eight distribution centers in China, Seattle-based Amazon.com also opened on Tmall.
Not to be outdone, EBay opened up a shopping portal on JD.com in April.
Another solution to reach Chinese buyers for U.S. retailers is to accept Alibaba’s Alipay on their own e-commerce websites, something that retailer Macy’s recently implemented.
“U.S. stores that feared competition from counterfeits online in China learned that impostors create demand for trusted sources,” said Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp, which helps e-commerce companies with international logistics.