(Australian Associated Press)
In China hundreds of millions of people will now never be able to spell koala correctly.
But Australians shouldn’t be too precious, Aussie farmers and manufacturers will be laughing all the way to the bank.
NetEase, a leading Chinese internet, email and gaming company listed on the NASDAQ and worth about $35 billion expanded into e-commerce last year launching Kaola.com.
Despite the website’s Chinglish name, cross-border commerce is now a 10 per cent chunk of NetEase’s revenue and going gangbusters.
Kaola operates on a similar basis to Amazon.
NetEase spokeswoman Maggie Liu said the koala was chosen as a symbol because, like the marsupial, NetEase wants its online customers to be “lazy and comfortable” – while it does all the hard work of delivering the best foreign products to people’s doors.
There are tens of thousands of products and more than 100 brands from Australia sold through Kaola so far.
Among Australian products in high demand are vitamins, baby goods such as nappies, various infant milk brands as well as skincare and make-up.
A typical Kaola customer is a Chinese woman, professional, aged 23-35, who is looking for top quality products and authentic brands.
There have been scores of consumer product scandals in China in recent years, denting confidence and trust in locally-made products.
Families are prepared to pay a premium for Australian products following China’s 2008 melamine milk scandal which killed six babies and caused 300,000 others to become ill.
Ms Liu is also a young mother and used to get her sister, who is studying in Sydney, to send her baby formula but now she says it’s cheaper to source it through Kaola.
“I like to know I’m getting a safe product,” she told reporters in Hangzhou, which is 200 kilometres from Shanghai and ia Chinese equivalent of Silicon Valley in the US.
NetEase Australian general manager Jianing Liu has been busy sourcing seafood such as rock lobsters from Western Australia this week as part of a new push into fresh food.
He’s also scouted WA beekeepers for honey and fruit from north Queensland.
Kaola was a great platform for small and medium sized companies to get a foothold into the Chinese market, especially in the wake of the Chinese-Australian free trade deal, he said.
Hangzhou is also home to another E-commerce giant Alibaba, similar to eBay, which recently signed a deal with Austrade during Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to the city for the G20 summit.
* The reporter travelled to China on a delegation hosted by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.