Improving export to China; three suggestions to Chinese authorities


Last week I was invited to address the China-Beijing Ecommerce Conference, hosted by Chinese authorities (Republic- and Municipal level) and our sister-organization BECA. This was a nice opportunity to get to know Beijing for the first time, a city of impressive scale, and revitalize the contacts I previously had with BECA. And also to bring up a couple of issues. To gather input for this meeting of minds I contacted a couple of retailers to hear of their problems exporting to China.

Big and strong European brands as well as SME’s show interest in exporting to China. Yet, doing business with China is according to the merchants, even more troublesome then selling to a consumer in another EU-country. So, in my presentation I raised three burdens retailers say they currently encounter; website performance through firewalls, changing of procedures and permits, the delay in delivery due to customs clearing.

Chinese firewalls a pain for performance

“Chinese firewalls are a pain for website performance,“ I stated. A potential client can easily change to the website of a (Chinese?) competitor if your site doesn’t perform right. Procedures and permit requirements by Chinese authorities changing overnight do cause administrative burdens. They cause delay in delivery and hence lower margins. The same goes for the time it sometimes takes, despite of Free Trade Zones, to clear customs and get products speedily delivered at the customer. We should jointly find ways to speed-up the customer and delivery journey, was my expressed wish.

Joint vision; the cross-continent digital shopper

After my speech in the impressive National Conference Centre, next door the equally impressive –Nest- Olympic Stadium, I met with Mrs. Linya, vice-chair of the Beijing Ecommerce Association (BECA). She expressed she could do little to help me tackling our problems (why should she? EU merchants should sell through Chinese platforms, shouldn’t they). But she did show a willingness to focus on ‘things that already work well’. Is this a classical stalemate between two continents?

No, being positive at heart, I don’t think that is the case. We will be looking for work around solutions for cross-border barriers. I like to see her response as working together towards the same point at the horizon; the digital shopper of the future that buys anytime, anyplace and for sure across the continents. And in my opinion the road to this horizon is through cooperation and building a global digital community.

PS: If you are curious about my views on how to arrive at this horizon? Then read my second blogpost about visiting Beijing.

*) PPS: some impressions from Beijing. I felt really welcome and safe. This country is pretty organized. The traffic is erratic and – being completely happy with it until now; my iPhone 5S felt outdated, or at least really small, compared to the size of mobile devices the Chinese use 😉

Author: Martijn Hos – director advocacy & policy at Dutch Ecommerce Europe member