As regional economies grow more dependent on the system of global trade, it follows that consumers in one country might develop a taste for products that aren’t available in the quality or quantity they want in their native land. Fortunately for them, Walmart wants to foster those foreign tastes.
Internet Retailer reported that Walmart has launched a program by the name of Global E-Buy, which aims to make it easier for Chinese consumers to purchase imported goods straight from their mobile devices. The feature is only available in Chinese versions of the Walmart mobile app, and for a good reason — the retailer first ships products to duty-free zones designated by the Chinese government, and when a consumer places an order for one, it then moves through normal customs routines.
“Cross-border eCommerce service is a good supplement and extension to our stores,” Sean Clarke, president and CEO of Walmart China, said at a launch ceremony for Global E-Buy, via Internet Retailer. “Walmart aims to be the most reliable retailer in China, no matter online or offline.”
Though Clarke explained that as many as 500 items would be available for purchase under the Global E-Buy umbrellla by the end of 2016, that number rests at just 200 at the moment. Furthermore, about half of those products are from Walmart’s or Walmart-owned brands. The other 100 are primarily U.S. brands, including Starbucks, Aveeno and Burt’s Bees.
While this may be a ground-breaking move for Walmart, it’s hardly so in the grand scheme of what its competitors have done. Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com all have operational imported goods programs for Chinese shoppers, but in what might be an attempt to make up that ground, Walmart also pledged itself to price-matching any imported item with its major competitors.
It might not be enough to drive more Chinese mobile shoppers exclusively to Walmart, but it could keep those who do happy enough to come back again.