Almost half of UK’s top online retailers are not capitalising on the great opportunity present in China’s e-commerce market, while most retailers are failing to offer pricing in Chinese Yuan, adjusted content, Chinese local payment methods or import tax calculation.

Research by cross-border e-commerce specialists, Global-e, reveals that although more than two-thirds of the UK’s largest online retailers are selling internationally, almost half (45%) are completely ignoring China’s burgeoning e-commerce market, with just 55% of retailers offering shipping to China. However, despite many retailers shipping internationally, the shopping experience offered to shoppers overseas, and particularly in China, varies wildly.

China’s total e-commerce market is expected to increase by 50% to $6.5 trillion by 2020 with online transactions accounting for nearly half of that growth. The country is confident about their international e-commerce potential too with China’s Centre for International Economic Exchanges predicting the nation’s international online retail will account for 30 – 40 per cent of total world trade by 2025.

While many UK retailers, such as Selfridges and John Lewis have taken steps to make the shopping experience in-store more welcoming for high-spending visitors from China, Global-e found that relatively few retailers have made similar improvements online. This is despite recent research by WorldPay revealing that 44% of people in China shop on overseas websites.

Global-e’s study, which assessed more than 150 of the UK’s largest online retailers, found that just one in ten (10%) retailers that ship to China offer shoppers a Mandarin language option. Across all retailers, just under a fifth (17%) offer non-English language options, with retailers that offer international language options offering 5.7 languages on average.

More than a third (36%) of retailers offer prices in other currencies, however Global-e found that just over a quarter (26%) of UK retailers that ship to China present prices in Chinese Yuan, while just 22% accept Chinese local payment methods, such as AliPay, UnionPay and TenPay. Of retailers that do accept Chinese payment methods, 42% offer a single option, barring some prospective customers from making a purchase.

Furthermore, almost all (98%) of retailers that ship to China do not provide full duties calculations and prepayment, which means that shoppers may be stung by unexpected charges or taxes. Not only does this put the retailer’s reputation at risk, these companies will be unlikely to generate brand loyalty in China.

Nir Debbi, Co-founder, CMO at Global-e, says:

“Shoppers expect more from the online retail experience but very few retailers can claim to offer global shopping."

"Our research shows that retailers are falling short in serving both Chinese shoppers and other overseas by not providing the seamless shopping experience they offer here in the UK," she added.

"Most retailers fail to offer local payment methods, localised pricing or taxes and duties calculation. To boost conversions abroad and harness untapped opportunities, retailers need to remove the frictions in the customer experience by providing effective shipping and returns, localised pricing, local currencies and payment methods with guaranteed landed cost. However, delivering a localised shopping experience doesn’t have to mean building standalone websites or negotiating deals in each market. Retailers can work with specialist partners to achieve this level of personalisation, reducing the time and money spent on cross-border commerce,” Debbi concluded.

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