Amazon.com Inc. says it’s making headway in selling imported goods to online shoppers in China and helping Chinese companies sell abroad.
“The mission of Amazon China is to allow Chinese consumers to purchase high-quality products from all over the world,” Amazon China vice president Niu Yinghua said this week in a presentation to the Cross-Border E-commerce Summit in Shanghai. “We also help Chinese manufacturers, especially small and midsize companies to reach global consumers.”
Amazon launched a cross-border shopping subsite called Haiwaigou (which means “buy from overseas” in Chinese) on Amazon.cn in November. It allows Chinese consumers to buy products directly from international brands on Amazon’s global sites. Niu said Haiwaigou now offers 1.6 million items, up from 80,000 when it launched. To speed delivery, she said Amazon moves popular products into its warehouse in the Free-Trade Zone in Shanghai, an area designed to move more quickly through Chinese customs.
For some brands, Niu said, Amazon China is warehousing inventory and facilitating sales on a variety of e-commerce sites in China, not just Amazon.cn. While she didn’t mention which other sites, Amazon recently opened a storefront for selling imported goods on Tmall, the brand-friendly marketplace operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s dominant e-commerce company.
Brands taking advantage of the Amazon service include French wine brand Paul Jaboulet Ainé and Iceland skincare brand Bioeffect. “Although those brands know little about the Chinese market, Amazon China, as a retailer, could help them in marketing and offer localized services,” Niu said. “As a result, Paul Jaboulet Ainé sold out its inventory in three days in its opening launch and Bioeffect is growing its sales three times faster than the average on Amazon.cn.”
Niu said Amazon is also making headway in facilitating sales by Chinese companies on its websites around the world through its Global Store project, which launched in 2012.
Chinese merchants can sell products via Amazon sites in nine overseas markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan and India. Amazon operates e-commerce sites in 14 countries. Besides these nine and China, the countries are Australia, Brazil, Mexico and the Netherlands.
Amazon maintains an international consulting team to answer questions from Chinese merchants through email, telephone and live chart, and Amazon’s European sites have translated merchant registration pages into Chinese, Niu said.
The Chinese companies are selling well on several of the Amazon sites, she said. “We just opened the Japan market to Chinese merchants, and sales of Chinese merchants in there jumped 500% in 2014,” Niu said. “In the U.S., sales of Chinese merchants last year increased 100%.”
She said some Chinese brands have seen particularly rapid growth in the U.S. through Amazon’s Global Store project. Chinese telecom brand Huawei’s smartphone has become one of the top 10-selling unlocked phones on Amazon.com, and apparel brand K-Boxing is increasing its online sales by 30% every month in the U.S., according to Niu.