One of China’s fastest-growing ecommerce businesses, Aomaijia, has launched its first Australasian offices in Sydney. This will enable it to source products from Australia and New Zealand to sell to its 30 million Chinese shoppers.
The Sydney office is Aomaijia’s fifth outside China, joining Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Seoul. The platform specialises in selling international brands into the Chinese market, and distinguishes itself against competitors by only dealing directly with manufacturers or their appointed agencies, not distributors or daigou.
Group chief executive Maggie Liu says the Aomaijia model offers producers more control.
“Even though most of our sales go through digital channels we are not simply an online mall. Other online trading platforms allow overseas companies to connect very quickly with millions of Chinese consumers; but they have significant limitations.
“The biggest drawback is that online malls sell many products through second-hand agents who may or, in many cases, may not be appointed by product producers. They generate sales but the trade-off is a loss of control in branding, distribution and retail pricing.”
“The Aomaijia platform was created to give suppliers control of their branding in China but also control over distribution, sales volumes and ultimately their profits.”
Another point of difference is its 14 physical stores in China. It plans to open 100 more of these over the next 12 months.
Among the New Zealand brands already on Aomaijia are Manuka Health and Karen Murrell. Aomaijia intend to source many more, including fresh products such as meat and produce.
Aomaijia communications director Suki Wong shared more insight into New Zealand’s place in the platform’s strategy.
For businesspeople with a limited understanding of the Chinese e-commerce landscape, how would you describe Aomaijia’s place in the market?
Aomaijia is an ecommerce platform which allows its users to have access online to an enormous selection of international brands. However, not only does Aomaijia operate via an online platform, but also offline throughout its retail stores in China. Compared to traditional physical retail stores Aomaijia stores are called “dual line” stores which connect customers online and offline to our products. People wandering in the dual line stores may easily find online facilities to help them check the authenticity of products and pay for the product online. Customers can also receive discounts online which can be also used offline.
Moreover, the stores will no longer be limited by their physical capacity as customers can be connected to our online product base covering 100,000 products and scan the relevant QR code to pay online. They can choose logistic services to have the product delivered to their home, with most products packed immediately and delivered within three hours if located in a city hub, unless it is readily available in the physical store.
What are the key benefits retailers can access by partnering with Aomaijia instead of brands from the Alibaba Group?
Other platforms, such as Alibaba Group, do not have physical retail stores [Ed: Alibaba launched its bricks and mortar Freshippo concept in January 2016.], and further to this they are heavily focused on either larger international brands or mass quantities, as opposed to more boutique retailers who are wanting to increase their brand presence in the Chinese market. We focus on both the boutique retailer and the international brands, ensuring a platform where our B2B providers are given an equal opportunity to sell their products.
We are also seen as a more premium platform, selling authentic goods from high quality brands in comparison to some of our competitors. Over 90 percent of the products on our platform are from international brands.
Further to this, our major technology advantage is that we have 132 intellectual properties and patent either in the process of being registered or accepted covering Blockchain, New Retail, Virtual Reality and Traceability.
Our technology and platform allows a seamless process for international businesses to easily access the Chinese market, without needing their own physical presence. Further to this, the purchasers are informed of our process allowing them to be assured of product authenticity, and also have the ability to scroll through all our online products whilst in a physical store, allowing a combination of both online and offline shopping experiences. Our technology has created opportunities for purchasers and retailers to have efficient and easy access to markets they have not previously been able to access, with the ultimate level of flexibility.
What are some common misunderstandings made when western businesses seek to engage with a Chinese audience online?
It can be considered a difficult market to enter, due to the large population and existing number of retailers and products currently available. However, the Chinese audience are always looking to purchase international goods, and the changes in technology have made this possible.
It is important to ensure the audience is being marketed to correctly, and through channels they are already using so that your business is front of mind and easily accessible. This means using platforms, such as Aomaijia, where they are already a user and trust the authenticity of the products, having the ability for transactions to be done online, and creating an aspirational brand they trust.
What do you wish retailers in New Zealand could better know about the Chinese ecommerce market?
Products from Australia and New Zealand are very popular in China, especially infant and health products, as they are considered better quality, more natural and more sustainable products. New Zealand products are highly trusted, giving them an advantage over products from other countries. China is also the largest market to Australian products, so it is critical to the Chinese ecommerce market that these products are made as readily available so that the Australian and New Zealand retailers can thrive, and ecommerce platforms can grow with them. They will bring a range of new products and set the standard for quality across this new market.