Chinese consumers craving global brands now have another way to obtain products from overseas: airplanes—and they don’t even need to board them.
Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines has started a cross-border e-commerce platform aimed at serving shoppers who want goods from the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and worry about the authenticity of foreign brands stocked on their home turf.
Launched last week, Southern Cross-Border Purchase is not a delivery service designed to transport packages for online retailers, like Alibaba or JD.com; it’s an in-house e-tailer selling clothing and shoes from Michael Kors, Coach and Adidas, as well as food brands such as Heinz, Kellogg’s and Kirkland.
It makes sense that the airline would want a piece of the cross-border e-commerce pie: its aircrafts carried 1,500 tons of packages from online sellers based overseas in the first half of 2015. And a recent report by consulting firm Accenture and AliResearch said China’s ever-growing middle class will be buying $245 billion worth of goods from foreign websites by 2020.
Not to mention, the Chinese government released policy guidelines earlier this year that included tax policies aimed at boosting domestic consumption and pilot projects to ease overseas payments. Under the rules, customs clearance procedures will be streamlined, while quality supervisors will allow collective declaration, examination and release of goods.