PTI China: Ecommerce is breaking barriers and leading innovation in China

Opportunity for Pacific businesses beckons in China, as the country becomes a leader in digital innovation and consumer attitudes shift towards premium product searches. PTI China explores these opportunities and readies potential Pacific suppliers for the market.

China’s strong consumer base has now led the country to become a leader in digital innovation with online channels becoming the ‘new retail’. Simultaneously, China’s consumer attitude is also evolving from a relatively price sensitive mindset to reveal more premium search behaviour. Both these transformations are significant opportunities for Pacific Islands exports to develop strategies that target high-end consumers in China.

Encouraging local entrepreneurs to get a feel from online platform trading and processes, recently PTI China provided financial support to building the Vanuatu Farmers Online Market, through one of its COVID-19 response packages. The platform supports local Vanuatu economy during the pandemic by redirecting consumers to buy online from local growers and producers. It also provides an avenue for businesses to explore online opportunities by focusing first on the domestic market.

Mona Mato, PTI China’s Trade Commissioner said, “SMEs are the biggest beneficiaries of the shift to ecommerce. The digital environment stimulates the innovation capacity of these enterprises and enables them to compete in a larger market with lower costs and greater convenience.”

While upskilling businesses in the Pacific, PTI China also continues to explore online opportunities in China to gain a hands-on experience in working with mainstream platforms. Last December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China hosted the annual International Online Charity Sales, inviting international organisations and embassies to participate and promote their national or regional products. The online sales included live promotions rolled out on China’s giant online platforms Taobao and Alibaba. This format provided foreign diplomats the opportunity to interact virtually with streamers, as they promoted their countries, culture, tourism, and products. One international embassy was thrilled as coffee beans from his country sold out almost immediately after his interaction online.

Trade Commissioner Mato says, “engaging with platforms like China’s annual online charity sales gives us the opportunity to better understand the diverse market, the trends and what consumers are looking for. It also helps us understand regulations, policies and some of the cross-border online barriers to trade.”

The benefits of digital platforms extend beyond sales. They also provide a way of communicating cultural values, histories, and connecting people. During the charity sales, PTI China promoted Fiji mineral water and Samoa Noni tea, targeting Chinese consumers interested in health and wellness. This prompted opportunity to discuss the unspoiled nature of the Pacific, cultural diversity, and lifestyle, resulting in deepened connections between Chinese consumers and the Pacific.

“Ecommerce has already changed the landscape for export businesses in the Pacific. There already exists market opportunities for our enterprises to leverage on. With our thoughtful ingenuity, we will continue to leverage the uniqueness of the Pacific Islands by promoting our Blue Pacific brand to China and the rest of Asia”, says Mato.

For more information regarding exports to China please contact Yolanda Jiang, Export Manager, PTI China e: yolanda.jiang@pacifictradeinvest.org.cn