News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    8 November 2017
    UK brands click with China’s online shoppers - over half buy British
  • 55% of China’s online shoppers buy from the UK, spending an average of £104 per month on items from British retailers, according to Royal Mail’s Delivery Matters report
  • 76% trust items bought from UK sites not to be counterfeit
  • 79% of China’s shoppers make purchases via their smartphone, compared to 28% of UK shoppers
  • China’s shoppers spend an average of £123 per month in total, purchasing goods online

Over half (55%) of shoppers in China bought items from British brands in a three month period, spending an average of £104 per month, according to a study commissioned by Royal Mail ahead of China’s Singles’ Day, the world's biggest online shopping fixture. There is a real appetite for ‘Brand Britain’ and goods are regarded as being well made and genuine. 87% like to buy British brands and 76% trust items bought from British retailers not to be counterfeit. 

China’s e-commerce market is a busy place with the average online shopper spending £123 per month, compared to £89 in the UK. It’s set to get even busier. Three in four shoppers claim to have recently increased their rate of online shopping while confidence has risen 30% within two years. 79% of China’s shoppers make purchases via their smartphone (up from 70% in 2015), compared to 28% of UK shoppers. 

Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said “This study provides a deep dive into the largest e-commerce market in the world. By 2020, China’s e-commerce market is set to be larger than those of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France combined*. UK brands are really clicking with China’s shoppers and have a unique advantage as their goods are perceived to be of premium quality. UK retailers should feel confident that exporting to China can deliver benefits to their business. Breaking into this market has been made much more straightforward thanks to Chinese third-party platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall.” 

When it comes to delivery, China’s online shoppers have high expectations and 88% spend time hunting for websites with free delivery. When China’s shoppers are satisfied with their delivery, 92% are more likely to buy from retailers again in the future. The study, part of Royal Mail’s annual Delivery Matters report, asked 1,500 online shoppers in China about their shopping habits and preferences.Returns are more important to China’s shoppers, in comparison to 2015, with over nine in ten (91%) more likely to shop with a retailer that has a clear returns policy. 

Almost two in three (61%) shoppers in China have bought clothes online, compared to the international average of 46%. Food and drink (51%), footwear (44%) and toiletries (36%) are also popular with China’s online shoppers. 

China’s shoppers find British retail websites in a variety of ways. At the front of the queue are search engines (44%), followed by word of mouth (42%) and 30% via advertising. 30% find British goods via social media which is significantly higher than the international average. Shoppers in China are far more likely to buy from a UK retailer while shopping (53%) than they are to look for one from the start (38%). 

Royal Mail joined the Chinese e-commerce boom in 2015, launching a storefront on Tmall Global providing China’s online shoppers with more access to authentic and high quality British products and in turn giving British retailers access to Chinese consumers. Royal Mail is one of the first postal organisations to set up a flagship store on Tmall. 


For journalist enquiries contact:

Jasmin Prichard, Royal Mail press office


Royal Mail press office: 020 7449 8246 

Note to editors:

*By 2020, China’s e-commerce market is anticipated to be larger than those of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France combined (The World Bank 2016). 

In March 2015, Royal Mail announced it was joining the Chinese e-commerce boom with the launch of a shop front on Alibaba’s Tmall Global e-marketplace. Royal Mail Group Chief Executive Officer Moya Greene unveiled the new initiative at the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, China. 

Royal Mail offers delivery to over 230 destinations worldwide, using the local postal provider in that country. Services include: 

  • Royal Mail International Signed:Peace of mind knowing your item will be signed for on delivery. Tracking to the point the item leaves the UK. Items are only handed over at their final destination once we have a signature from the recipient.
  • Royal Mail International Standard: An economical way to send parcels abroad with a choice of sorting requirements. Delivery to rest of the world outside Europe in 5 to 7 working days. Compensation included. Free returns for undelivered goods.
  • Storefront presence on Tmall: Selling through the Royal Mail Tmall store gives UK online retailers access to:
    • The largest third-party e-commerce platform in China
    • Product marketing and content translation
    • Reliable delivery from UK to China by Parcelforce Worldwide
    • Support with returns, exchanges and refunds

The research was independently conducted by Trinity McQueen between 30 April and 13 May 2017 and based on a representative sample of 1,500 online shoppers in China, who have purchased items on the internet in the last three months (other than groceries). 

About Royal Mail plc

Royal Mail plc is the parent company of Royal Mail Group Limited, the leading provider of postal and delivery services in the UK and the UK’s designated universal postal service provider. UK Parcels, International and Letters (“UKPIL”) comprises the company’s UK and international parcels and letters delivery businesses operating under the “Royal Mail” and “Parcelforce Worldwide” brands. Through the Royal Mail Core Network, the company delivers a one-price-goes-anywhere service on a range of parcels and letters products. Royal Mail has the capability to deliver to around 30 million addresses in the UK, six days a week (excluding UK public holidays). Parcelforce Worldwide operates a separate UK network which collects and delivers express parcels. Royal Mail also owns General Logistics Systems (GLS) which operates one of the largest ground-based, deferred parcel delivery networks in Europe.