Seven things you should know when exporting to China

According to Dr Mathew McDougall, CEO of Reach China and revered expert in doing business with China, Australia’s trade relationship with China is growing by the day and it includes large scale exports of resources through to everyday items which small and medium size Aussie businesses are ideally placed to provide.

“China represents a huge opportunity for Aussie SMEs,” McDougall said. “We import over $62 billion worth of goods from China and export over $93 billion dollars worth of goods and services to China.

“China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people and their middle class is growing. They are also avid online shoppers and eager to purchase premium quality brands. They also seek out authentic Australian brands as our products are considered high quality, clean, green and produced in highly regulated environments. Our soils, air and water are seen as pure.

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“The key areas of export opportunity for Aussie food and beverage small businesses include:

  • Maternity, baby care products and baby food
  • Milk powders (including infant formula and adult milk powder), UHT and pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter
  • Seafood (particularly saltwater shell fish such as oysters, crabs, lobster and abalone)
  • Fresh fruits (citrus, table grapes, cherries and mangoes) and natural fruit juice
  • Oats and other breakfast cereals
  • Chilled, frozen beef and processed foods
  • Wine and craft beer

McDougall suggests that while the idea of exporting to China may seem daunting, many Australian businesses, from mum and dad operations to larger companies have commenced the journey of exporting to China with great success.

“It is really a matter of preparing well and taking the right steps,” Dr McDougall said. He has put together seven key steps Australian businesses should follow if they want to export to China.

  1. Work with an experienced export consultant to help you in your journey. A good export consultant will assist you to work through all steps of the process
    This is essential to ensure you are making the right decisions and doing the right things. This avoids putting money in the wrong places and minimising mistakes.
  2. Ensure your product is suitable for the Chinese market and that there is a demand for your product.
    While this may seem straight forward, China is a big country with different markets. Be clear about what part of the market you are targeting and the potential for sales and growth. The more unique and high quality, the more appealing the product will be.
  3. Get to know Chinese culture
    Get to know the market to which you are seeking to export. Find out what products are doing well and why. Understand their social media platforms such as WeChat and how they engage and shop. A little research goes a long way.
  4. Grow awareness of your products in the Australian market first to build brand credibility and trust in China
    Chinese consumers buy brands based on reputation, trust and credibility. If your brand is known in Australia and has a good reputation, then the Chinese are more likely to buy your product in or from China.
  5. Build a sound online presence through a good website and social media
    Chinese consumers are very internet savvy and research products before they buy. They also rely on reviews. Having a strong online presence ensures your brand is well represented and and findable on the internet.
  6. IP and branding
    Protecting your IP is important, not only in Australia but overseas. Ensure your products are clearly branded and IP registered in Australia and that the branding has no conflicts with any existing brands known or registered in China.
  7. Be patient, flexible and scalable
    Many businesses have achieved explosive growth exporting to China, while others have found the journey a bit more slow going. Regardless, it is important to ensure that you are taking the right steps and are prepared for growth when it happens.  Sometimes strategies and tactics need to be adjusted and this is normal, the key is to be patient and committed – and be ready when things do shift quickly.

“I have helped many Australian startups and larger businesses export into China. With many, we have drawn on the Australian based Daigou sector to get the export process underway,” McDougall said.

“Daigou are Australian based Chinese who buy products and send them back to their friends, relatives and others in China. There are over 80,000 Daigou in Australia and the Daigou trade channel is growing fast helping many Australian brands to build awareness among consumers in China.

“Regardless of the strategy, the key is to ensure you have a good product to sell There are many Australian businesses with good products that are ideal for export. Hopefully we see more making the move to export. It can be a life-changing experience.”