As of 2019, China had nearly twenty thousand cross-border e-commerce enterprises, and most of them were small and medium-sized enterprises. In that year, the gross merchandise value generated by international online trade accounted for almost 40 percent of the total import-export value in China. Driven by the development of logistics and digital payments, many Chinese e-commerce companies set up strategies to acquire more overseas markets. Aliexpress, the subsidiary of China’s online retailing giant Alibaba, defeated eBay to become the second favorite website among cross-border online shoppers.
After the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, selling on online cross-border marketplaces like Aliexpress and wish.com became a way for many Chinese manufacturers to tackle their economic predicament. To stimulate the growth of cross-border e-commerce, China planned to establish 46 new pilot zones, on top of the 59 existing cross-border e-commerce pilot zones. Enterprises located in these pilot zones were supported through tax deductions on exporting.
The rising middle-class in China demanded high-quality products, yet they don’t want to risk buying counterfeits. Therefore, cross-border e-commerce platforms became their ideal option for shopping for foreign goods. Around three-quarters of the cross-border e-commerce users in China shopped via cross-border e-commerce websites. Tmall Global and Kaola.com were the most popular cross-border online shopping websites among Chinese consumers. Overall, cross-border e-commerce imports have soared in the past decade with the trade volume increasing nearly tenfold. From snacks to vehicles, Chinese consumers shop a wide variety of international goods online.