What is the quickest, most cost-effective route to Chinese eCommerce sales?

The questions most often heard about Chinese e-commerce (after the “Should we doing this?” “Yes we should” internal debate) has always been: “how quickly can we be up and running and how much will it cost?”

While it was historically the case that it was both a costly and time-consuming process to get an e-commerce proposition up and running in China, the truth is that things have changed. Avenue51 has just launched an Automated Onboarding process which opens up the potential of Chinese e-commerce to the majority of British SMEs in a very cost-effective, and relatively quick – weeks rather than months – process.

How much? Well, for only £1000 (yes, £1k, 100 x @ £10, or 1000 £1 coins, you get the point) and a few minutes spent filling in a simple online form, you can get your business trading on the Royal Mail Tmall Global store in China.

How does that sound?

It’s the cheapest route to China and it can be found by clicking on this link which will take you to the front page. All you need do is register, read the FAQs to make sure the proposition is appropriate for you and that you are able to join, complete the form and press the button and there you are.

It’s not for everyone but for the first time it’s fair to say that Chinese e-commerce is accessible to the majority. Have a look. If you have any problems or questions that the FAQ doesn’t answer then drop us a line via this blog or the contact form on the website and we’ll do what we can to help.


Success in Chinese e-commerce is all about the bits you don’t see

Per the earlier post, Tmall provides Waitrose and many of our other clients with the ideal sales platform to reach deep into the Chinese consumer market but in order to succeed in Chinese e-commerce you also need marketing, IT and logistics – there’s activity going on to support clients which is often hidden from view but which is absolutely necessary to ensure success.

From a marketing perspective, Avenue51 uses the latest PR, social media, viral marketing and affiliate marketing techniques and channels to support all of our clients (including Waitrose, Works With Water, Linwoods, Glenbrae AND Royal Mail, among others) achieve their objectives. Our main goal is brand position and ROI.

Of course, it helps that Avenue51 IT solution is the most comprehensive available to British companies.  Our set-up allows UK brands to upload product detail and maintain accurate stock availability information through API, FTP and excel. Our integration process is simple and quick and our market reach is extensive: in China we are integrated with more than 20 Major Chinese platforms.

Finally, flexibility in logistics is key to delivering the most cost-effective service and Avenue51 is highly adept at applying the most appropriate solution to the client’s situation.  We use the Royal Mail Parcelforce service, Direct injection and also bonded warehouse and this blend of logistics solutions ensures we deliver the goods in the quickest time for the merchant while also at the same time reducing shipping costs and customs delays.

Success in China and in Chinese e-commerce really is about all the bits behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see at first glance.

Waitrose on the Royal Mail Tmall Global Store

We have been working with Waitrose for the last 6 months to launch into the Chinese market. Today, as you may have seen on Twitter or in the Daily Mail, we have launched a collaboration between Waitrose, the Royal Mail Tmall Global store and Alibaba.

Royal Mail’s Tmall Global store is the idea launch pad for Waitrose as it allows the company to test the market quickly and efficiently without heavy financial cost or the need to commit huge resources to the project.

Both companies are Royal Warrant holders, both have huge brand awareness in the UK and China and both are world-leading companies in their respective fields. The match is ideal and we are extremely proud to be working with both to help them develop and grow their businesses in China.


China Customs: New rules and regulations

You may have read that with effect from last Friday (April 8th) with no grace period new regulations are being applied by Chinese Customs. While the regulations are (of course) complex, we have attempted to distil the key points to help aid understanding and spread the word.

Fundamentally, goods which utilise the “Cross-border e-commerce retail import” channel into China will have duty made up of tariff, VAT and consumption tax levied upon them. The consumer who purchases goods which are shipped into China using this channel will be liable to pay the tax. This applies to all goods for which there are ‘three elements’ in place namely the order details, payment information and logistics (i.e. tracking and consumer’s Chinese ID card) data.

The actual transaction price (including retail price, freight and insurance) will be considered the taxable value.

Here’s the detail:
1. The regulations apply to any cross-border e-commerce retail import merchandise bought through e-commerce trading platforms that are connected with China Customs. The ‘three-document connection’ is key: the criteria is that Chinese Customs is able to check the detail of the order (i.e. what it is), payment (how much it cost) and logistics (how and to whom it’s been sent). The intention is for this to be a national-level initiative including all marketplaces and encompassing all consumers in China.
2. Cross-border e-commerce retail import merchandise that is not transacted on e-commerce trading platforms connected with Customs, but which is imported by express delivery (i.e. courier services) and some tracked postal service channels that provide the “three document connection” information of order, payment and logistics and promise will also bear the same liability for tax to be paid by the consumer.
3. Personal articles that are not imported by the cross-border retail import channel but which do not include the complete order, payment and logistics information (per 1) will be treated in the same way as applies under existing regulations. In this case the sender will still self-certify the value and contents of the package but the payment information is not attached – this is broadly the same as occurs with current postal service and personal import channels.
4. The limit of each transaction conducted through cross-border e-commerce retail import is raised from RMB 1,000 to RMB 2,000 but an individual annual limit of RMB 20,000 is also being applied. The tariff rate for cross-border e-commerce retail import merchandise within these limits will be temporarily set at 0%. The VAT and consumption tax of import will be temporarily set at 70% without tax exemption. Items which exceed either the single transaction limit or take the consumer over their annual limit within the cross-border e-commerce retail import channel will have the full amount of general trade tax levied upon them.
5. Goods imported through the cross-border e-commerce retail import channel which are subsequently returned to the retailer within 30 days of customs release will qualify for a full tax rebate. The consumer will also see an adjustment of their total annual individual transaction amount to take the return into account.
6. The identity information of the buyer must be verified. When it is not verified, it should be consistent with the payer’s information.

Kicking things off

Avenue51 is now well into the second year of its life and what a journey so far.

From a simple idea shared by our two founders which led to the company’s establishment, through the appointment by Royal Mail to run its store on Tmall, to the relationships we’ve built with partners worldwide, marketplaces in China and clients here in the UK, it’s been a demanding, exciting, challenging and interesting few months.

This blog will attempt to tell our story as we develop and give you, the reader insight into the Chinese e-commerce market. We’ll look at what makes it tick, exciting times and events and the rules and regulations that we all need to understand in order to trade successfully in the world’s largest e-commerce market.

Please feel free to post comments as articles appear, make suggestions for areas you’d like to see covered or ask questions on any aspect of Chinese e-commerce.

Our expertise and experience is at your service