Amazon China, the China division of Amazon.com Inc., announced this week a significant expansion in the selection of imported goods it offers online on the section of Amazon.cn called Haiwaigou, which means “buy from overseas” in Chinese. Amazon said it had added more than 2 million products in February, bringing the total selection on Haiwaigou to 10 million.
The Haiwaigou section of Amazon.cn makes it easier for Chinese consumers to purchase products from Amazon’s U.S. site as it translates the product pages into Chinese and offers such local payment options as Alipay, a service backed by China e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Among the products introduced last month are items from such designer brands as Ivanka You-Know-Who and Isaac Mizrahi. In order to sell through Haiwaigou on Amazon.cn, U.S. merchants need to enable the “ship to China” option when they set up the product listing on Amazon’s U.S. site, according to Amazon.
Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500, which ranks North American retailers by online sales, and No. 5 in the China 500, which ranks retailers operating in China by their sales in that country.
Amazon says that, after conducting many tests, it has connected the systems of Amazon.com and Amazon.cn and can now automatically translate into Chinese an English-language page by using software after a merchant on Amazon.com adds a product listing. Previously, Amazon employees in China had to translate the content of English-language pages into Chinese manually and then generate the Chinese pages, a time-consuming process that was prone to mistakes.
Amazon, which is the leading overseas retailer in terms of online sales in China, also introduced in August limited-time sales on Haiwaigou. Amazon says sales from flash sales on Haiwaigou have grown nearly tenfold from six months ago. Amazon fulfills the orders from its warehouse in Shanghai’s free-trade zone, one of 10 such entry points into China designed to smooth the process of importing goods into China.
Amazon also says consumers can get their orders in three to five days if the e-retailer stores the product in the free-trade zone, or in about a week if the merchant selling on Amazon has to ship the other from the U.S.
Since 2012, China’s government has taken a series of steps to make it easier for consumers to buy overseas goods via the web. That includes setting up free-trade zones—now in 10 cities—where China’s customs service provides fast clearance of small orders from Chinese consumers. Foreign companies can ship the orders from abroad or store goods in these areas without them clearing customs, then, as orders are received, send them through the streamlined customs process.
Consumers can purchase 10 categories from Haiwaigou, including healthcare, mother and children’s products, beauty, apparel, kitchenware, electronics, office supplies, bags, watches and jewelry, according to Amazon.
Amazon also reported earlier that Chinese consumers’ purchases on Amazon sites outside of China was six times higher in 2015 than a year earlier, though the company did not provide a dollar figure.