New website helps expats buy online without the Chinese language

Published:  10 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: China
China’s online Chinese language sales sites beat out many of those in the rest of the world for price and selection, but everyone including expats who’re not fluent in Standard Chinese, is excluded.

Sites such as Tmail and Taobao are hubs for Chinese buyers seeking bargains in everything from clothes through household goods to electronics, but foreigners have been struggling to order due to the language barrier. Two years ago, three innovative tech-minded expatriates with similar problems realised expat frustrations could be converted to a stunning business idea, and the Baopals site was born.

Since it’s inception as a massive sales platform, the site has sold in excess of two million products for a total of over $14 million. Baopals co-founder Jay Thornhill told the media China is probably the best place in the world as regards online shopping. The site offers everything from watches through clothing to electronics and household goods, and it’s possible to set up an apartment in its entirety simply by logging on, browsing and buying. It’s totally convenient and prices are at the bargain level as regards competition with other Chinese sites. Baopal is also a lifeline for local businesses suffering from the US’s ban on the export of Chinese-made goods, giving the SMEs affected a vital domestic marketplace in which to keep their businesses running.

For a sales site first aimed at expatriate customers living and working in China, it’s proved essential for Chinese retailers attempting to corner the relatively new expat market. Co-founder Charles Erikson believes the three friends have done a great job, and is now aiming to introduce better-quality Chinese products at affordable prices. The plan for 2019 is to go global, bringing in international customers and shipping to destinations across the world, thus opening up the site to a literally unlimited number of eager consumers.
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