Tmall Global launched a new logistics feature that makes it easier for global brands to sell fresh food from around the world to Chinese consumers.
Alibaba’s dedicated cross-border e-commerce site has created an end-to-end service that handles shipping for temperature-sensitive products, from foods to pharmaceuticals, solving a problem faced by any brand looking to sell fresh items to China: namely, the need to hire multiple logistics partners to fulfill an order.
The controlled temperatures used throughout the links, including warehousing, processing, packaging and transportation, help guarantee product quality and freshness. Tmall Global also handles customs clearance, online, with items receiving approval immediately after the order is placed. Once in China, the goods are stored in Tmall Global’s warehouses, allowing for fast delivery – in as little as 24 hours.
“We’re seeing a growing appetite for fresh, high-quality food, especially among younger consumers,” said Sonic Gao, head of the food category at Tmall Global.
“They want fresher, healthier food that are low salt, low sugar, low fat. This makes it even more important to have robust cold-chain infrastructure to bring more of these products to consumers on our platform,” he added.
China’s cold-chain network represents a relatively small part of the logistics industry, but it is forecasted to grow considerably over the next few years, driven by policy support and rising demand for fresh food and medications. The cold-chain logistics market is expected to reach over RMB 339 billion ($48.2 billion) this year, up 17.6% compared to last year, according to the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
Black Friday Debut
Tmall Global said it would also offer sales and marketing opportunities to help brands directly reach and engage consumers to better sell these fresh goods.
“Brands can gain first-hand knowledge of who their customers are and their preferences through their stores. These insights can inform their future decisions, helping drive product innovation and market expansion,” Gao said.
During its Black Friday campaign last month, Tmall Global released the first batch of products using the service, which included fresh milk from California and plant-based meat from Hong Kong’s Green Monday. The site said that more cold-chain offerings would be available on the platform, such as cheese and butter, as more merchants make use of the service in the coming months.
The California Milk Advisory Board, a government-affiliated organization that promotes premium dairy products from the state, was also one of the first merchants to use the cross-border cold-chain solution.
“With a solid consumer base and outstanding reputation as a leading platform in the market, Tmall Global is the perfect partner for us to not only move forward the sales of, but also build the brand prestige of real California milk dairy products in the China market,” said CMAB International Market Director Glenn Millar.
Green Monday sold about 4,000 packs of “Omnipork,” a plant-based protein that looks and tastes like pork, in just two days of launching on the platform. It also sold out all of the “chicken” nuggets it had stocked up for the first day.
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David Yeung, Green Monday’s CEO and co-founder, said that while the plant-based eating trend is relatively new to China – compared to the U.S. or Europe, where the diet is more widely adopted – the early results of its debut on Tmall Global have been “incredibly encouraging and positive.”
“Tmall Global creates a unique window for foreign brands and products to reach mainland consumers,” Yeung said. “In China, where the market and the geography are truly enormous, being able to deliver frozen products nationwide and service a vast majority of customers interested in our range of leading plant-based brands and products is incredibly valuable.”
“It also is a synergistic platform to showcase the full range of our products. Their marketing input and support are also incredible, as it creates the buzz throughout China about our launch,” he said.
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Tmall Global tapped the network resources of Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao to power the new service. This comes as Cainiao rolls out a series of specialized, cross-border supply-chain solutions for global brands, such as customized shipping for perishables with a short shelf life, cosmetics and jewelry.
“More than 400 international brands have made use of our tailored solutions so far, where we offer a full chain of fulfillment services, from storing cargo in our bonded warehouses to packaging and last-mile delivery,” said Sun Beibei, head of the Global Supply Chain division at Cainiao Smart Logistics Network.
This has helped brand partners reduce an average of about 10% in costs and improved delivery speed by five to 10 days, she said.