China’s volume of cross-border e-commerce purchases rose by nearly 40% in 2018. This marks the latest milestone in China’s demand for imported products purchased directly from overseas. By 2017, cross-border e-commerce channels already represented 13% of all imported consumer products in China.
Rising volumes of directly imported products has also been accompanied by a growth in the number of product categories, brands, and countries of origin. During the first three quarters of 2018, merchants from over 200 countries sold directly into China. 70 of these countries had already racked up more than RMB 10 billion in online sales.
New Policies Add Convenience to Cross-border Shopping
New policies announced in November, 2018 dropped the requirements for approval and registration for first-time imported products sold via cross-border e-commerce channels. After January 1, 2019, these categories of products will be treated as imports for personal use. Products on the cross-border e-commerce import list continue to receive zero-tariff benefits as long as volumes don’t exceed specified limits. In addition, 63 new products have been added to this list. Meanwhile, the upper limit on import volumes of products entitled to tax incentives has increased as has the number of cities covered under the pilot program. Currently, the number of cities offering these bonded warehouse services has increased 15 to 37.
Demand for Niche Brands and Personalized Products Feeds Cross-border Sales
On Tmall Global, demand for popular imported product categories such as cosmetics, baby and maternity products, and healthcare products continues to climb. Meanwhile, emerging categories such as pet care, digital household appliances, and personal care experienced explosive growth in 2018.
Young Consumers are Top Buyers.
Although families remain a mainstay of cross-border e-commerce, younger consumers such as college students and recent graduates are some of the fastest growing shopper segments. Young consumers now account for 60% of overall volume on TMall Global.
Beauty and Personal Care Remain Top Cross-border Categories
Beauty and make-up products continued to see strong year-on-year growth on TMall Global.
Although Japanese, Korean, European, and American brands still dominate cross-border beauty purchases, niche brands from smaller markets are beginning see demand in China. Asian skin-focused, Japanese and Korean brands still top the cross-border shopping lists. But China’s online buyers have begun experimenting with new products from new markets.
Chinese consumers are buying a broader and more diverse range of personal care products. Body and hair cleansing products have become important personal care categories.
Demand for healthcare products also is on the rise. Oral care and supplements such as grape seeds, collagen, and whitening pills grew significantly in 2018. Young consumers also are trying non-traditional, natural, and innovative products like collagen jelly strips and melatonin soft candy.