Hailing from the Alibaba market research arm, Alibaba Research Institute Executive Senior Expert and Ali Cross-border E-commerce Research Centre Director Ouyang Cheng said that China’s ‘three great opportunities for the world’ were not to be missed.
“China is now opening up its trade with Shanghai as the trade centre, not to mention its gargantuan market due to the large population and the ongoing digital transformation and advancements in the country,” he said at the Nutraceutical Industry Development Conference held in conjunction with the Fi Asia China 2019 show in Shanghai.
“[According to research], China is set to overtake the United States as the largest overall consumer market worldwide, which is a great opportunity for all foreign companies, [including those in the food and beverage industry].
“E-commerce in particular [is a major engine for growth] – China takes up 46% of all global e-commerce, and the percentage of online retail has risen rapidly over the past few years to cross CNY7tn (US$976bn) as of 2017.”
To illustrate how strong the influence of e-commerce is in China, he used Alibaba’s major e-commerce event 11:11 as an example.
“The 11:11 event was considered the biggest social collaboration in [all] business history, involving 225 countries and regions, 140,000 brands, and over 15 million products,” said Ouyang.
“It also showcased the usage of a lot of advanced technology: over 60% of customers used bio-verified payment methods such as fingerprint and face recognition, whereas some 150 million goods were traced using blockchain technology.”
Such a digital platform has enabled businesses to extend their trade boundaries, reduce costs as well as improve efficiency, with deals able to be made ‘instantly anywhere between anyone’.
“Traditional business rules based on geography and time have been broken [with] this Digital Unified Market,” said Ouyang.
“This is especially true for products with local ‘personality’ and tradition coming into China [from the rest of the world], as Chinese consumers really love these.[Examples include] biscuits and coffee from Malaysia, Sri Lankan tea, Thai rice, Philippines mango and coconut products and more.”
Ali Research data put the value of Chine’s cross-border e-commerce and foreign trade at CNY27.8tn (US$3.9tn) in 2017, and this value is expected to hit CNY37tn (US$5.2tn) by 2020.
“From nine days previously, the average delivery time for products from other countries has been shortened to four days, [which is attractive to customers],” he added.
“Data obtained from digital retail can also be used to help shorten up to 50% of the time used during the process of NPD, as it can quickly give insight into local tastes and preferences. It can also show demand for some unexpected products, e.g. a trend of consumers looking for products combining chilli and chocolate.”