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User number of cross-border import e-commerce trade in China 2013-2019

In 2019, around 125 million Chinese customers had engaged in cross-border import e-commerce, growing from 88.5 million the previous year. The trade value of cross-border import business reached nearly 2.5 trillion yuan that year.

“Daigou” in China

While the market size of cross-border online retail exceeded 400 billion yuan in 2019, China’s “daigou” industry appeared to slow down considerably after thriving for two decades. “Daigou” is a unique Chinese term for an overseas shopping agent and is well known by most Chinese online shoppers. “Daigou” purchase goods in physical stores overseas and sell them to Chinese buyers online. Emerging at the beginning of the 21st century, the “daigou” industry boomed after the baby formula scandal of 2008, when a famous domestic dairy product company was accused of adding harmful chemicals to its baby formula. Besides milk powder, Chinese “daigou” shopped a wide range of goods abroad, from luxury bags to local snacks. The craze for imported products among Chinese has increased along with their disposable income. However, the “daigou” industry hit a snag when China’s first e-commerce law was published in January 2019. With the tightening of customs regulations, it is hard for “daigou” to keep making a profit.

“Haitao” in China

The fast-growing international logistics service industry allows Chinese consumers to shop directly from overseas-based online retailers and ship their orders home. Known as “haitao”, this cross-border shopping trend became increasingly popular among cross-border shoppers. More than 20 percent of Chinese online shoppers said their first cross-border shopping channel choice was through foreign websites.

Number of cross-border import e-commerce users in China from 2013 to 2019

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

2013 to 2019

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Statistics on "Cross-border e-commerce in China"

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