UK brands click with China’s online shoppers - over half buy British, according to Royal Mail

55% of China’s online shoppers buy from the UK, spending an average of £104 per month on items from British retailers, according to Royal Mail’s Delivery Matters report

  • 76% trust items bought from UK sites not to be counterfeit
  • 79% of China’s shoppers make purchases via their smartphone, compared to 28% of UK shoppers
  • China’s shoppers spend an average of £123 per month in total, purchasing goods online

Over half (55%) of shoppers in China bought items from British brands in a three month period, spending an average of £104 per month, according to a study commissioned by Royal Mail ahead of China’s Singles’ Day, the world's biggest online shopping fixture. There is a real appetite for ‘Brand Britain’ and goods are regarded as being well made and genuine. 87% like to buy British brands and 76% trust items bought from British retailers not to be counterfeit.

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 in four shoppers claim to have recently increased their rate of online shopping while confidence has risen 30% within two years. 79% of China’s shoppers make purchases via their smartphone (up from 70% in 2015), compared to 28% of UK shoppers.

Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said “This study provides a deep dive into the largest e-commerce market in the world. By 2020, China’s e-commerce market is set to be larger than those of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France combined*. UK brands are really clicking with China’s shoppers and have a unique advantage as their goods are perceived to be of premium quality. UK retailers should feel confident that exporting to China can deliver benefits to their business. Breaking into this market has been made much more straightforward thanks to Chinese third-party platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall.”

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. The study, part of Royal Mail’s annual Delivery Matters report, asked 1,500 online shoppers in China about their shopping habits and preferences.Returns are more important to China’s shoppers, in comparison to 2015, with over nine in ten (91%) more likely to shop with a retailer that has a clear returns policy.

Almost two in three (61%) shoppers 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. At the front of the queue are search engines (44%), followed by word of mouth (42%) and 30% via advertising. 30% find British goods via social media which is significantly higher than 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 joined the Chinese e-commerce boom in 2015, launching a storefront on Tmall Global providing China’s online shoppers with more access to authentic and high quality British products and in turn giving British retailers access to Chinese consumers. Royal Mail is one of the first postal organisations to set up a flagship store on Tmall.

Source: Royal Mail Group

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