Sainsbury's accelerates online presence in China

Sainsbury's is growing its business in China following a successful trial on Alibaba.

The grocer is planning to double the number of products available on Alibaba's Tmall marketplace platform, selling 100 Sainsbury's branded products across four categories – British Breakfast, Drinks, Organic and Baby. There are also plans for more ranges to be added in the autumn.

Sainsbury's first began its trial on the Alibaba online platform last September. The retailer capitalised on its near-150-year UK heritage by offering classic components of the British afternoon tea including speciality teas, coffee and biscuits to Chinese customers alongside its own-brand items including organic British milk. The Tmall website was created to feel distinctly British with its blue and red colouring and iconic flag in clear view.

The grocer has also announced its involvement in Tmall's annual 8.8 shopping event. Sainsbury’s will be the only international retailer to have a Super Brand Day during the sales event, which is set for 8 August.

"Chinese online shoppers are increasingly demanding high quality international products. Many customers also want to replicate tastes and occasions that they have enjoyed or heard about through international travel. Products to make a British breakfast and English afternoon tea have therefore proved hits and top-selling lines to date include Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Granola with raisins, honey and nuts, tea, shortbread and UHT milk," said John Rogers, chief financial officer at Sainsbury’s. "Our trial with Tmall has enabled us to learn a lot about China’s huge digital market, including the importance of sales events such as Singles’ Day and 8.8. Alibaba’s expertise in the rapidly growing Chinese digital consumer market will be a huge asset to us as we grow and develop our business in China and we look forward to working with them on this exciting opportunity.”

Amee Chande, MD for Alibaba Group, UK/Ireland & Nordics, added: "Alibaba are proud to be providing Sainsbury’s with the online platform to build brand awareness, directly engage a new audience and meet the evolving food and lifestyle demands of the Chinese consumer. As one of the most prominent British retail brands, Sainsbury’s is a key addition to our ecosystem and our collaboration is introducing the large and growing Chinese consumer class to a new range of products to enhance their daily lives."