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British retailers urged to court China’s e-commerce market

15 February 2016 - 14:25 by Simon Crisp

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Although China is quickly becoming home to the world’s biggest market for safe shopping online, a new report from Global-e has revealed that only 55 per cent of retailers in the UK are targeting consumers in this vast country, according to Information Age.

By the year 2020, it is expected that China’s e-commerce market will be worth almost £4.5 trillion annually, representing a growth rate of 50 per cent over the course of half a decade. And figures published by the Chinese government estimate that, by 2025, up to 40 per cent of all world trade will be generated by safe shopping online.

UK retailers are well positioned to expand overseas because of the maturity of the marketplace in which they have cut their teeth, but just 71 per cent of the biggest brands have sites that are accessible to international customers.

This means that it is not only the boom of e-commerce activity in China which is being overlooked, but also the expansion of overseas sales closer to home.

Even those that do offer customers the option of having products delivered to China are still falling behind in terms of actually catering to Chinese customers. The report found that just 10 per cent of the sites that will ship items to this country have the option of displaying product information in Mandarin.

This means that there is a significant language barrier in place, with 17 per cent of sites offering the ability to switch between languages and most of these providing less than six different selections.

Retailers in the UK could be severely limiting their ability to maintain growth and compete globally, if they ignore the rise of e-commerce across China or, indeed, in other emerging markets like India and South America.