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Sainsburys debuts Chinese e-commerce offering

16 September 2015 - 09:41 by Graham Miller

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British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has spent the past half decade testing the waters in China, to see whether it could enter this potentially lucrative marketplace. And now the firm has confirmed that it will be selling products via safe shopping online in this vast, heavily populated nation, according to Retail Week.

By the end of the decade, analysts estimate that China’s online grocery market will be worth £115 billion annually, allowing it to easily eclipse most other nations worldwide. And Sainsbury’s is just one of the firms vying for a position at the moment.

Initially, the company will be selling items which are targeted at the upper end of the market, including organic products, such as British milk and other premium items, as this is the area which is experiencing especially pronounced growth at the moment.

One reason that top tier groceries are doing so well in China is that consumers have been stung by a number of scandals involving dubious low quality consumables in recent years. Now Sainsbury’s and its rivals are hoping to capture the attention of those seeking quality items available to buy via safe shopping online.

Sainsbury’s is partnering with e-commerce giant, Alibaba, through its small brand, to start its Chinese excursion, although if this proves to be a success it may well end up offering its own standalone site further down the line.

The key point in this expansion is Sainsbury’s reluctance to actually open any bricks and mortar stores in China; instead it is using its online knowhow gained in the UK to broach the e-commerce market, as its first point of contact with consumers. In fact, earlier investigations made by the firm suggested that it was better to ignore the high street in favour of a pure online presence outside of the UK.