Recovering Chinese ecommerce sector, Meghan Markle and Brexit all push Chinese shoppers to buy online with UK companies, study says

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More than three quarters (76%) of Chinese citizens who have previously bought British goods online plan to increase their online expenditure in 2020 when compared to last year.  Just 16% plan to buy less or no British goods at all this year. 

With China now believing it has passed the peak of the coronavirus epidemic, the economy is set to grow again, and the market represents a huge opportunity for British retailers to benefit from China’s trillion-dollar online market.  

When asked in a study by digital commerce platform JGOO why they plan to buy more British goods online, 43% said it’s because British goods are becoming more fashionable in China, and this was followed by 23% who said it was because the profile of the UK had risen as a result of recent developments such as Brexit and the issues concerning Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  

Some 17% said it is because they are less willing to purchase American goods because of the current tension between the US and China, and British products are a good ‘alternative’ to these.

Despite this growing demand for British goods, 41% of Chinese citizens who have made a cross purchase from China over the past two years, said they encountered difficulties doing this, with 8% describing the process as ‘very difficult’.  Just over half (56%) said they found it easy to buy British goods online whilst in China, with the remainder saying they don’t know or can’t remember.

For those who encountered difficulties, the main issue was that there were no social media or online platforms allowing them to ask questions in Mandarin or Cantonese, the view given by 57% of respondents.  This was followed by 19% who said it was because they could not pay using WeChat Pay or AliPay, and 17% who said it was due to there being no Mandarin or Cantonese version of the website. 

Richard Morecroft, Director and Co-Founder of JGOO explains: “Our findings are very encouraging for British retailers and businesses in that they show a growing demand from Chinese citizens for ‘Brand UK’.  The profile of the country has been raised by events such as Brexit and Megxit and the recent Coronavirus outbreak has led to a boom in cross-border e-commerce purchases from those quarantined in China and unable to purchase domestically. However, many Chinese citizens continue to encounter difficulties trying to buy British goods online and this is costing companies in the UK millions of pounds a year in lost sales.”

Morecroft adds: “Given the difficulties many British retailers are encountering on the high street and in the UK generally, more companies need to look overseas to grow their businesses, and there is no bigger market than China.” 

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