Report

High demand for UK brands: China online shoppers

Royal Mail, the UK’s national postal service, published a new study as part of its annual Delivery Matters report. It reveals over half of China's online shoppers purchasing UK brands.

Royal Mail's study was commissioned ahead of Singles’ Day in China, the world’s biggest online shopping day. It was published in November 2017 and is based on a survey of 1,500 online shoppers in China on shopping habits and preferences. 

The new report finds that Chinese online shoppers strongly click with British brands, with over half of them purchasing UK goods online. Royal Mail has joined the Chinese e-commerce boom in 2015 when it launched an online storefront on Tmall Global, Asia’s largest business-to-consumer (B2C) retail platform, which lets businesses sell directly to millions of consumers throughout China. 

Tmall is widely considered an important platform for the Chinese retail strategies of leading global businesses and an effective avenue for penetrating the Chinese market. Royal Mail opened its store on Tmall in 2015 to offer Chinese online shoppers more direct access to authentic, high-quality British products while giving British retailers access to Chinese consumers. Royal Mail is one of the first postal organizations to set up a flagship store on Tmall.

The new study by Royal Mail confirms that there is a real appetite for “Brand Britain,” whose goods are regarded as well made and genuine: 

  • Over half (55%) of shoppers in China bought items from British brands in a three-month period, spending an average of £104 per month.
  • Some 87% like British brands, and 76% trust items bought from British retailers to be genuine.
  • China’s e-commerce market is a busy place, with the average online shopper spending £123 per month, compared to £89 in the UK. It’s set to get even busier: Three out of four shoppers claim to have recently increased their rate of online shopping, while confidence has risen 30% within two years. A full 79% of Chinese shoppers make purchases via their smartphone (up from 70% in 2015), compared to 28% of UK shoppers.
  • When it comes to delivery, China’s online shoppers have high expectations, and 88% spend time hunting for websites with free delivery. When China’s shoppers are satisfied with their delivery, 92% are more likely to buy from retailers again in the future.
  • Returns are more important to Chinese shoppers today than in 2015, with over nine in ten (91%) more likely to shop with a retailer that has a clear returns policy.
  • Almost two in three shoppers (61%) in China have bought clothes online, compared to the international average of 46%. Food and drink (51%), footwear (44%), and toiletries (36%) are also popular with China’s online shoppers.
  • China’s shoppers find British retail websites in a variety of ways. First and foremost are search engines (44%), followed by word of mouth (42%) and advertising (30%). Some 30% find British goods via social media, far outpacing the international average. Shoppers in China are far more likely to buy from a UK retailer while shopping (53%) than they are to look for one from the start (38%).

Royal Mail reported that this study delivers a deep dive into the largest e-commerce market in the world and that by 2020, China’s e-commerce market is expected to be larger than those of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, and France combined.

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