How Australia Post’s partnership with retail giant Alibaba could give your business a foot-up in Asia

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Small Australian businesses will gain more access to the lucrative Chinese retail market thanks to an agreement signed by Australia Post and retail giant Alibaba this week.

The agreement will create a new avenue for Australian companies to access Alibaba’s Tmall.com shopping platform, which is China’s largest online third-party platform for brands and retailers.

While Australian companies have been able to get their products into the online store in the past, a spokesperson for the Alibaba Group told SmartCompany this could only happen if the company was registered as a Chinese business entity, employed local staff and had stock in China.

“The recent collaboration with Australia Post will allow Australian businesses to use their Australian business licenses and ship their products directly from Australia,” says the spokesperson.

Australia Post has already launched its own store within the Tmall.com platform, using an aspect of the platform called Tmall Global. A number of local brands also have their own shopfronts on Tmall.com, including Penfolds wine, baby food Bellamy’s Organic and retailer Jeanswest.

While the Tmall Global solution is a separate division of the Tmall platform from the point of view of suppliers, the spokesperson says Chinese consumers who visit Tmall.com will not notice the difference.

The spokesperson says Alibaba has identified growing demand among Chinese consumers for Australian products, particularly in the baby care, health and nutrition, and beauty industries.

“Chinese consumers are looking for these products from Australia because Australia is known for its clean and healthy products,” says the spokesperson.

And while the spokesperson says it is possible for Australian companies to work with Alibaba directly, the Australia Post option may be better suited to small companies that are looking to build their brands.

“Chinese consumers are very brand-conscious, so working with Australia Post would allow the companies to tap into ‘brand Australia’,” says the spokesperson.

There is also a growing number of Chinese consumers who travel to Australia for holidays and study, and when they return to China, want to access the same products and brands, says the spokesperson.

Australia Post and Alibaba are yet to decide what marketing will be done around the partnerships, but the spokesperson said a similar agreement was recently signed with the French government, which led to marketing activities that promoted French brands in China.

As part of the arrangements with Alibaba, Australia Post will also begin stocking pre-paid Alipay gift cards in its retail outlets in June, which will allow Australian consumers to purchase goods from Tmall.com and Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace.

A spokesperson for Australia Post told SmartCompany the organisation is committed to helping Australian SMEs grow their businesses in Asia.

“Through a range of innovative ecommerce partnerships with international postal organisations, ecommerce marketplaces and global businesses operating in the Asia Pacific region, Australia Post is opening doors for Australian small business around the globe,” said the spokesperson.

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Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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