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Start-up aims to open Chinese export doors

NZN 1/06/2017 Hu Min

Small New Zealand businesses may get a leg-up from a start-up looking to overcome the barriers faced by niche exporters trying to access the Chinese market.

Expat David Lo, who came to New Zealand in 1986, has set up NZ One Mall, a company with an online platform to sell premium Kiwi products into China.

Unlike major Chinese retail sites such as Tmall and JD.com, which buy products to resell them in China, NZ One Mall allows small and medium-sized producers to sell their wares directly through its Chinese-language website.

"We don't sell products. More importantly, we serve medium and small-sized suppliers in New Zealand, and we bridge them and Chinese consumers and are their extension in China," Mr Lo said.

The website seeks to overcome a lack of scale for smaller companies whose brands might not be familiar to Chinese consumers, and which don't have the capital or channels to promote themselves in the world's second-largest economy, he said.

That includes helping local firms establish their brands in China and covers the whole supply chain, covering E-commerce sales, transportation, licensing and certification, customs clearance, promotion, sales channels exploration, and delivery of the products to Chinese customers.

NZ One Mall, who shareholders have invested about $3.1 million, will generate revenue from transactions, website subscriptions for suppliers, and consulting services including marketing campaigns, Lo said.

It employs eight people across Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch and five in China, where it has a 4000-square-metre warehouse in Beijing to deliver products from New Zealand.

Its head of export business and relationships, Vaughan Meneses, said technology played a much bigger role among Chinese consumers than in New Zealand.

"That changes behaviour. That changes how people shop. That changes how people think. That's quite different from New Zealand," he said.

NZ One Mall has signed 17 suppliers, such as Miharo Honey and Kawatiri Coffee Roasting, and was in talks with a seller of alpaca quilts and two others keen on exporting canned fresh air to China.

It wants 70 suppliers signed up by the end of the first year, and 200 after five years.

Lo said the major challenge was overcoming the complexity of doing business in China, ranging from logistics and shipping to clearing customs.

"Every single process is difficult which involves a lot of waiting and a lot of frustration," he said.

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