Tmall.com fresh food offer expanded for 11.11

As Chinese consumers continue to upgrade their diets with food ordered online directly from international outlets, Tmall.com is gearing up for this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival by offering a wider assortment of international food and beverages for the giant 24-hour e-sale.

On offer at the Tmall.com fresh foods subsite (miao.tmall.com) is beef from Australia, apples from the U.S., pineapples from the Philippines, lobsters from Canada, avocados from Mexico, kiwi fruit from New Zealand, and crabs from Russia, along with a host of other overseas delicacies.

Tmall has added wine to the mix: Overseas wineries that have recently opened Tmall virtual stores include California’s Robert Mondavi and Penfolds from Australia. Currently Tmall’s fresh food vertical has listings for more than 100,000 products from more than 70 countries and regions.

For food and beverage companies participating in the 11.11 festival this year, the sale is less about discounts and more about opening Chinese consumers’ eyes to the high-quality foreign products that, thanks to cross-border e-commerce, they can buy direct from overseas by shopping on Tmall. It’s also a chance to raise brand awareness and introduce new products and trends to millions of Chinese consumers.

“Our goal for 11.11 is to get Chinese customers to be more discerning,” said Pete Yu, business development manager for Dole (Shanghai) Fruits and Vegetables Trading Co, the international fruit brand’s branch in China. “While good at discovering delicacies, we hope they can also tell the quality of fruit and understand the significance of quality.”

Dole launched its Tmall shop in September, 2014, offering a variety of fresh-fruit imports such as pineapples and bananas from the Philippines, pears from Belgium, oranges from Australia and longans from Thailand. During the Nov. 11 sale last year, the company completed 17,000 orders.

Yu said that this year, Dole aims to offer consumers quality fruits at affordable prices, rather than try to shift huge volume at deep discounts.

“We believe Chinese customers will gradually accept idea of being healthy, and will be willing to pay a slightly higher price for fruits that meet international standards” such as Dole’s non-GMO papayas, he said. He added that the company is satisfied with the progress Dole’s eCommerce business has achieved so far.

“Like many other international brands in the fresh food industry, our growth is strong and steady.”

Yu’s insights were echoed by Li En, deputy director of eCommerce at Ocean Family, which has been selling high-end fresh seafood including shrimps from Argentina and king crabs from Chile on Tmall since 2011.

Ocean Family has a strong offline wholesale network reaching tables of many luxury restaurants and supermarkets, Li said. Selling direct to online shoppers through Tmall provides direct exposure to potentially millions of new customers around the country.

“By offering the best products and services at reasonable prices on Nov.11, we want to attract more customers to try new products, building a virtuous circle,” he said.

Some food sellers join the 11.11 festival – the largest online sale in the world – to launch new products during a period of peak Tmall traffic. During a special 11.11 promotion last year, Tmall said it sold more than 90,000 live lobsters from Canada, which subsequently became a popular fresh food item sold on the site throughout the year.

This year, crawfish from the US states of Washington and Louisiana are slated to make their China market debut.

“Chinese people have the tradition of eating crawfish, but the water and habitat of crawfish have been polluted in China,” said Yu Zhongyan, CEO of Aichen (Shanghai) Trading Co, which runs a fresh food store on Tmall. Shoppers who order crawfish online during the 11.11 festival can expect to have the live crustaceans shipped by air and delivered directly to their homes within 48 hours.  

“We are confident that wild crawfish from the US will be welcomed by Chinese consumers,” Yu said.

At this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival kick-off ceremony, Tmall signed strategic collaboration agreements with fresh food associations and government bodies from 25 countries to facilitate fresh food imports. Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, and its partners can deliver fresh food to homes in more than 246 Chinese cities within 24 hours.

  • Original reporting: Susan Wang, of Alizila.com, an Alibaba-founded, independent news service focused on the Alibaba group of companies.

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