RETAIL UK company Waitrose has started exporting to China last month after reaching an agreement to sell products online through the Royal Mail Store on Tmall Global, an online marketplace managed by the Alibaba Group.
It will be the first time the UK supermarket has exported to a country via a website platform that only allows market access to the supermarket’s products and ranges, including Waitrose Duchy Organic, Waitrose Baby and later this year, essential Waitrose and Waitrose.
Tmall is China’s largest third-party online platform for brands and retailers to connect with hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers. Waitrose has arranged the deal through Avenue51, who runs Royal Mail’s store on Tmall Global.
The Royal Mail store specialises in championing British companies and Waitrose will be one of its highest profile brands to date. There will be a dedicated Waitrose page within the Royal Mail’s online store with information about the brand for its new customers in China alongside the product listings.
An initial 30 products will be available from the Waitrose offer, including biscuits, tea, coffee, cereals and nuts as well as beauty, baby and organic ranges, with more lines set to be added shortly after the launch.
Shoppers will be able to choose from favourites such as the supermarket’s Earl Grey tea and Waitrose Duchy Organic Shortbread, to Waitrose’s No.1 skincare product Baby Bottom Butter.
“The potential for Waitrose in China is huge and although it’s a relatively modest start, it’s our ambition to see it become our biggest international business in the next three to five years. We are proud that Waitrose is recognised around the world for quality and excited to be reaching new markets,” said Mark Williamson, commercial director for Waitrose.
A report researched and compiled by e-retail analysts, Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), in 2014, highlighted the potential of the Chinese online market. It estimated that less than half of China’s 1.36 billion population was using the Internet, despite it already being the world’s largest ecommerce market.
In addition, the number of mobile Internet users in China had grown by more than eight times in the past five years and is expected to surpass 700 million this year.