Entrepreneur York Zhang has launched NZ Pure - an exclusive e-shop on Alibaba's Tmall.com - to assist Kiwi companies to better access the rapidly growing Chinese market.
"Chinese consumers want and trust Kiwi products, but they need to trust the people selling to them," says Zhang."That is where NZ Pure comes in. We want to attract New Zealand companies who can use the website 'to go into China'. They don't need to open a shop or invest in the market - they can sell their product on the internet."
NZ Pure has the only New Zealand e-commerce shop on Tmall.com, which is China's most trusted business-to-consumer (B2C) website selling to 180 million consumers across China.
It is concentrating on high-volume "pure, clean and safe" New Zealand products - dairy and milk powder, beverages, health products, education, tourism, horticulture and proteins like meat and fish.
Zhang has been dealing with Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma's Alibaba group for 8 to 9 months to get the e-shop up and running.
He says Tmall.com's registered buyers trust the site because the products are carefully vetted before being listed for purchase.
"We have rights from Alibaba to help local New Zealand people sell their products on Tmall."
Jonathan Lu - who recently stepped into Jack Ma's shoes as Alibaba CEO - visited Auckland last year and was impressed with the possibilities. He is reputedly a great fan of New Zealand and our clean and green image. A source has told the Herald Lu had wanted to establish a "Virtual NZ House" on Alibaba. Approaches were made to a leading corporate, but got nowhere.
But Zhang's Plaxo Capital stepped up and went through the vetting process to emerge as its authorised partner in New Zealand. This means Zhang's company will develop local brands and assist the brand owners develop online sales through Tmall, engage in business development, Customs' clearance, online sales and consulting on Tmall's behalf.
The business has attracted the attention of Trade Minister Tim Groser who is "delighted" by the young New Zealand Chinese entrepreneur's initiative. "This is the future of commerce. It is a means for New Zealand to engage in direct B2C business and given its hundreds of millions of e-based customers is infinitely scaleable." Groser plans to meet Lu at a dinner in Shanghai later this week as part of the Prime Minister's official visit.
The Economist recently said Alibaba was on track to become the world's first e-commerce firm to handle US$1 trillion (NZ$1.2 trillion) a year in transactions.
Zhang says, "The Kiwis want to sell products to China and more and more Chinese people want to buy them."
The NZ Pure shop went live in March. Its team are "trusted specialists" in exporting to China.
Product is put on containers and sent to NZ Pure's warehouse in Hangzhou, 45 minutes by train from Shanghai. From there it is sent to online buyers. Zhang says the big advantage of this process is it cuts out the middlemen with their 5-10 per cent margin.
Zhang is managing director of Plaxo Capital. The other two directors are Gerald Hu and Ruihu Liang.