E-commerce in China: How suppliers can access a booming market


Michelle McNickle, Digital Product Manager

Published on
March 8, 2016

The device-heavy lifestyle of younger generations in China have created a huge boom for e-commerce sales of fresh food, and for seafood suppliers looking to break into the Chinese market, it means a change in thinking regarding traditional processing practices.

This sentiment stemmed from a panel titled E-Commerce in China at today’s Seafood Expo North America show in Boston. Eric Li, Vice President of Shanghai Yiguo E-commerce Co., Ltd (Yiguo), said that in the past, major suppliers exported whole fish to China, processed it and re-exported it to sell elsewhere. However, he said, “it’s changing because demand is growing fast. The consumer is willing to pay premier [for seafood in China].”

Yiguo, the leading e-commerce company in China, specializes in providing perishable foods to approximately 5 million consumers across more than 50 cities in China. “It’s a different segment now,” Li said. “You can still do it the old way, or you can process and pack to China and sell to the China consumer.”

Working with an e-commerce platform like Yiguo has its benefits as well. “With us, we know consumer feedback and consumer response, and we work out a marketing plan.” Li referenced a marketing campaign Yigo did with Chilean blue mussels. “Traditionally in China, mussels are considered cheap. But the launch of whole shell mussels was totally about a different lifestyle.” The company paired mussels with a garlic sauce and white wine, “so the younger generations could experience the product. It was stylish and healthy and very successful.”

Overall, e-commerce in China is growing fast, due in part to younger generations and their love for mobile, but also because of consumers’ concerns regarding food safety. “There have been a lot of scandals in the past decade with milk, antibiotics, chemicals in food…people believe an online supplier can provide better quality in terms of safety,” said Li.

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