Wal-Mart sells imported goods in China via a mobile app

March 25, 2016 10:00 AM

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer by sales, is stepping up its promotion of imported products to online shoppers in China, the world’s largest e-commerce market.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 8 in the Internet Retailer 2016 China 500,this week launched Global E-Buy, a cross-border e-commerce service that aims to serve the growing demand of China’s middle class for goods from abroad. The retailer earlier reported that its sales of imported products in China doubled in 2015.

The service allows consumers to order imported products via a section on the Wal-Mart China app. Wal-Mart stores those products in the duty-free zones the Chinese government has authorized in recent years, sending products through customs after a consumer places an online order.

Such Wal-Mart China rivals as Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., and Inc.’s China division and all have online portals that feature imported goods. Wal-Mart says its Global E-Buy service will match the prices of its major rivals on the imported goods it offers. is No. 1 in the China 500 and Amazon China No. 4. Alibaba is not ranked because it is not the merchant of record for sales on its massive Taobao and Tmall web marketplaces.

The imported goods feature is only available on the Wal-Mart mobile app, which the retailer introduced in May. It allows consumers in three cities in southern China to buy products in Wal-Mart stores in those markets, either picking up orders in stores or requesting home delivery. Wal-Mart says more than 500,000 consumers have downloaded the app and that sales through the app are seven times greater now than during the app’s first month. Wal-Mart says it will extend the mobile app service in more Chinese cities this year. 

Wal-Mart says it sells about 200 products on Global E-Buy, including from such U.S. brands as Starbucks, Aveeno and Burt’s Bees. Wal-Mart’s private-label products make up half the selection, including Spring Valley nutritional supplements and Little Angels diapers from Wal-Mart subsidiary Asda Stores Ltd., a U.K. supermarket chain. Wal-Mart says it expects to offer 500 products on Global E-Buy by the end of the year.

“Cross-border e-commerce service is a good supplement and extension to our stores. Wal-Mart aims to be the most reliable retailer in China, no matter online or offline.” Sean Clarke, president and CEO of Walmart China, said at the launch ceremony this week. 

Wal-Mart entered China in 2006 and now operates more than 400 stores and 20 fulfillment centers in the country that employ more than 100,000 workers. Wal-Mart has built its e-commerce business in China on the online food and general merchandise retailer Yihaodian, which the U.S. retailer first bought into in 2011. Wal-Mart took a 51% stake in Yihaodian a year later and bought the remaining 49% last year. Yihaodian sells at, and it sales on that site that give Wal-Marts its ranking of No. 8 in the China 500.

Earlier this year Wal-Mart said it plans to open 30 stores and build more logistics facilities in China in 2016, while it will close 269 stores globally. 

China has relaxed its policies in recent years to making it easier for overseas brands to sell online. Those policies include simplifying custom clearance procedures and reducing duty taxes. For a full report on the opportunities for foreign brands to sell online into China, read “Open Door Policy,” which appears in the November 2015 issue of Internet Retailer magazine.


For more Chinese e-commerce data, please click here for the new-released Internet Retailer 2016 China 500. 




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