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Pilot e-commerce platform launched

2013-12-30 10:33 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The country's first pilot cross-border e-commerce platform was launched in the China Shanghai (Pilot) Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Saturday, a move that will make it more convenient for consu-mers from the Chinese mainland to purchase products overseas.

Five types of goods - bags, fashion accessories, skin care and cosmetic products, food and beverages, and maternal and children's products - are already on sale on the online platform, which is called kuajingtong.com.

The operator of the platform, Shanghai Kuajingtong International Co, has already signed agreements with companies from the payment, logistics and retail sectors, and is negotia-ting -coo-peration deals with around 30 -global e-commerce websites including eBay and Amazon, Shanghai Morning Post reported Sunday.

Since the demand for products imported from overseas by Chinese consumers has been growing fast in recent years, the pilot cross-border e-commerce website "will have a bright future if its operator can offer pro-ducts with high quality and reasonable prices, as well as convenient services," Zhang Yi, CEO of Shenzhen-based Internet research firm iiMedia Research, told the Global Times Sunday.

Currently in China, consumers have limited ways to buy products overseas via the Internet. Some of them buy products directly from eBay and Amazon and then pay a third-party express delivery enterprise for transportation of the goods, a method that can sometimes allow them to evade customs duties.

Other consumers purchase pro-ducts overseas via individual vendors on e-commerce platforms such as taobao.com. But many consumers have complained that the products they bought from the individual vendors are fake.

"Kuajingtong.com will have many business opportunities as the demand is huge," Zhang said.

But Zhang also noted that it will take at least one to two years for kuajingtong.com to grab a large market share.

Chinese consumers said they will hold a wait-and-see attitude toward the new platform.

"The types of products on kuajingtong.com are limited so far. I will wait until there are more choices," Xia Tian, a 30-year-old white-collar worker in Beijing who has a one-year-old daughter, told the Global Times Sunday.

Xia has bought maternal and -children's products via websites such as amazon.com and paid third-party express delivery companies for transportation. "This type of purchasing model is already very common among young mothers," Xia noted.

"I still prefer to buy goods via vendors on taobao.com, from whom I have purchased products for two years," Wang Yujing, a 26-year-old white-collar worker in Beijing, told the Global Times Sunday.

Wang said the luxury bags and clothes she buys are 40 to 50 percent cheaper than those sold in domestic shopping malls, mainly because they are tax-free.

Consumers will have to pay tax if they buy products via kuajingtong.com.

But Yan Jing, executive vice-president of Shanghai Kuajingtong International Co, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying Sunday that "the prices for international brands sold at kuajingtong.com will still be 30 percent lower compared with those sold in domestic offline stores."

"Although the consumers have to pay duties via kuajingtong.com, their purchasing activities will be legal," Yan noted.

A recent trial involving a former air stewardess who smuggled in products and re-sold them to Chinese consumers via taobao.com has raised discussions about the legality of cross-border purchasing.

The Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court found the former air stewardess guilty last month and sentenced her to three years in jail for smuggling.

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