Some of the first Australian businesses to enter the Chinese market through the Alibaba ecosystem are behind a new program to help Australian food and beverage companies take advantage of the cross border ecommerce opportunity.

eCargo has launched the Cross-Border Ecommerce (CBEC) Growth program to minimise the risk for FMCG brands that want to enter the Chinese marketplace.

The program leverages eCargo’s enhanced presence in the Chinese market after acquiring Jessica’s Suitcase and 85 per cent of Metcash’s Asia business in 2018. Prior to the acquisition eCargo was purely a services business that helped businesses operate in the Alibaba ecosystem. It now has both online and offline distribution channels in the China market.

For a fee, the new program allows businesses to test the Chinese market by selling products on Jessica’s Suitcase and Metcash’s Tmall Global stores. Further support is offered to ‘incubate’ the brands in the form of marketing strategy, traffic generation and stock planning and supply chain management.

eCargo non-executive director and founder of Jessica’s Suitcase, Jessica Rudd, says the combination of the acquired businesses means eCargo can offer everything brands need to enter the Chinese market, including market analysis, product registration, help dealing with customers and marketing.

Rudd, who is also an Alibaba ambassador, says brand building and finding the right partners remain some of the toughest challenges facing Australian businesses trying to enter the Chinese market.

“It is not just about showing up. I think there was a time that if you jumped on the China bandwagon early on, you could probably have a go and get a bit lucky,” she told Which-50.

“But this is the world’s noisiest marketplace, this is a place that so many, so many countries are desperate to get their product into.”

According to Rudd the eCargo program provides a less risky way for brands to trial products without having to open their own flagship store on Tmall Global.

“The reason we have done this is because we saw how many small businesses grew into medium-sized and then big businesses through the Chinese market. But given the saturation of those flagship stores, a lot of smaller businesses are really finding it difficult to have the wherewithal to go and start themselves in a flagship capacity on platforms like Tmall Global.”

“So what we wanted to do is provide a place in which to nurture those businesses and hatch them if you like, so that they could stand on their own two feet and grow into having their own flagship presence. At Jessica’s Suitcase and at Metcash, we are some of the last remaining multi brand stores [on Tmall Global] so we are uniquely place to do that.”

Beyond access to eCargo’s online platforms, the program will provide access to data and insights, marketing, traffic generation and reporting.

Following the initial incubation period, eCargo said it will work with brands to assess their distribution sustainability, including online and offline distribution options.

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