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Shopify Ties Up with Chinese E-Tail Titan

A partnership between digital titans could help U.S. brands reach millions of Chinese shoppers, and one high-fashion designer is ready to take the plunge.

E-commerce platform Shopify teamed with China’s JD.com to give U.S. sellers access to the Asian nation’s 1.4-billion-strong consumer base. As of last week U.S. merchants can list their products on the JD Worldwide cross-border commerce site to reach 550 million active customers.

GlobalData pegs China’s e-commerce market at $3.3 trillion by 2025, and in 2021, 52 percent of total retail sales will occur online sales, eMarketer data showed. Despite its digitally savvy populace, China “has often remained inaccessible to independent businesses and upstart entrepreneurs abroad,” Shopify said. “Regulatory and logistical barriers, as well as complexities related to pricing, duties, and translations, can be daunting to deal with for all but the largest of brands.” Foreign brands typically need to hurdle a year’s worth of bureaucracy before they can begin selling in China.

JD Marketplace enables Shopify merchants in the U.S. to get started in as little as three weeks. It will expedite onboarding, handle end-to-end fulfillment from JD’s U.S. warehouses to consumers in China, convert pricing to local currency based on foreign exchange rates and other criteria, and translate product names and descriptions.

Shopify will leverage JD.com’s existing China-to-U.S. cargo flights to bring products back to the country, relying on more than 1,300 warehouses and 200,000 delivery personnel to store and transport items to end consumers. Its infrastructure management unit purchased a controlling stake in warehouse developer and manager China Logistics Property Holdings in September to enhance fulfillment capabilities.

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“Bringing together two world-class commerce platforms—Shopify and JD.com—is a major step in solving cross-border commerce for merchants,” said Aaron Brown, vice president at Shopify. “The future of commerce is commerce everywhere—and that starts by removing barriers to entry to one of the most important e-commerce markets in the world.”

Setting up the JD Marketplace sales channel is part of Shopify and JD.com’s larger strategic partnership. The duo plan continue solving cross-border commerce challenges related to product sourcing, selling, and logistics for merchants in the U.S. and China. Daniel Tan, president of JD Worldwide, said the partnership will “unlock the huge potential of the Chinese market for brands outside of China.”

“At the same time, it will increase cross-border commerce by leveraging our global supply chain abilities, simplifying what has traditionally been a very complicated process,” he added.

Altuzarra CEO Shira Sue Carmi said the New York luxury brand will be among the first American brands to begin selling through the marketplace. “Given Joseph [Altuzarra]’s Chinese heritage and the great momentum we are seeing with our business overall, we see tremendous opportunity for Altuzarra in mainland China and are thrilled to be able to explore it easily and seamlessly through Shopify’s new JD Marketplace channel,” she said.