How do hurricanes impact China’s e-commerce?

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LOS ANGELESOct. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Extreme weather events, even if they are thousands of miles from mainland China, can have a significant impact on the country’s Internet sales.

How can that be? First, consider the magnitude of China’s international e-commerce sales. According to a report released at the 2017 China E-Commerce Conference in Beijing, China’s online retail sales in 2016 represented nearly 40 percent of the global market.

The report estimated these sales at RMB 26.1 trillion, equivalent to $3.8 trillionin US funds. That is a 19.8 percent increase in just one year. China exports e-commerce products to more than 220 countries and regions.

The number of overseas buyers exceeds 1 billion and about 20 million international shoppers visit Chinese retail websites each day.

When Hurricane Maria belted Puerto Rico and the surrounding areas in September, many Chinese shipments to the south and the east coast of North America were delayed. Some customers from South America were also affected.

“More than 12 percent of our sales are from American customers,” explained Vic Tsang, Marketing Manager for ZAFUL (

“We also have many European customers. During the storm, we saw a noticeable increase in complaints about shipping . If customers wait too long for an order, it negatively affects our reputation. Trust is a very important to online merchants like ZAFUL.”

Rosegal (, another online retailer from China, experienced similar problems with Hurricane Maria. Customers far removed from the severe weather conditions complained about late or missed shipments.

“We realize that these types of delays are disappointing to the shopper,” said Tsang “The hope is that customers will understand our difficulties and be more patient when this type of weather is a factor. But that’s not always the case.”

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