Online shopping has made retail faster and more convenient. However, the online retail sector in western countries is dwarfed by the $762 billion online retail sector of China. Tmall Global is one of the most popular ecommerce sites. It's a business-to-consumer platform, allowing many overseas businesses to open up their virtual shopfront for the lucrative Chinese market.
Jessica Rudd is one of the 1,300 Australian brands on Tmall and Tmall Global, selling organic Australian mother and baby supplies.
“Online shopping has just completely taken off in China. Couriers are cheap, so it’s easy to move packages around China very quickly. You can place an order online on Alibaba or Taobao or Tmall Global, and you can have it that afternoon or that week,” she says.
The name of the store came from when Jessica was living in Beijing. Jessica’s Chinese friends always asked her to bring back Australian supplies every time she returned home. So Jessica’s Suitcase was born because “it’s pretty much what I’d put in my suitcase and bring over for my friends in China.”
Since launching Jessica’s Suitcase on Tmall Global in 2015, it has grown to over 75,000 regular shoppers with 150 Australian organic infant products. According to Jessica, she would never sell anything that she wouldn't personally use.
Jessica runs her suitcase from her home in Brisbane. She and her husband Albert lived in Beijing for a number of years before returning to Australia to raise their children. Despite no longer living in China, Asia has always been a part of Jessica’s narrative, and always will be.
Jessica understands the importance of connecting with buyers, who may be wary of online products. To connect with customers and clients, she uses Chinese social media platforms Wechat and Weibo.
"What’s been missing in that online space is trust."
“Earning that trust is something that I’ve done over social media. There is no Twitter, no Facebook in China so there are equivalents. Weibo is a bit like Twitter. WeChat is a little bit like Facebook. If you’re not on WeChat in China, it’s very difficult to do business."
On these sites, she runs her 'mummy blog', posts about her products and even conducts live broadcasts.
“We do as much as we can to give customers access to me, so they can see who it is they’re buying from.”
However the "organic" and "Australian-made" label is enough for many Chinese mums, who see Australian products as a cleaner, safer and greener alternative to Chinese-manufactured supplies.
The company's future plans are to prepare for Singles Day, a consumer holiday in China on 11th November that earns Alibaba billions of dollars in sales in that 24 hour period.
For Jessica, that means stocking up her suitcase with Australia's finest organic mum and bub products.