• Andrew Collins

Tmall Meets Duty Free Shops: Tax Free Shopping With a Click

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

Starting in July 2015, Chinese travellers gained freedom from their frantic airport duty free shopping routines as Tmall.hk (an online shopping platform for overseas goods powered by Alibaba) has partnered up with two major global duty free giants: South Korea’s The Shilla Duty Free and Thailand’s King Power Duty Free.

Does this mean that everyone can enjoy this service? Sadly no.

Only travellers with outbound tickets are allowed to do so. 3-60 days prior to their outbound trip (or even during the trip), travellers can surf on Tmall.hk to shop and pay for their goods. Proof of payment will be sent to their phones either in the form of e-receipts or barcodes. Upon flying back home, their goods will be ready for pick-up in the airport.

Another important aspect of this development is the availability of UnionPay as it is rated by Chinese as one of the most important services on international trips. Luckily, these two duty free online shops accept UnionPay and Alipay on checkouts. Once again, this has saved Chinese shoppers from the hassle of carrying cash and dealing with exchange rates.

The feedback for this new service came back largely positive. In less than a month after the platform launched, King Power Duty Free online shop’s total order value has topped RMB 1 million (US$161,000), with an average order of RMB 7,135 (US$1,150). Alibaba also foresees the opportunity and they are ready to spread their wings to Europe. They are currently in discussion with 10 European duty free companies to create a more integrated and comprehensive travel and shopping experience for Chinese consumers.

Sporting the world’s largest e-commerce market, it’s forecasted that China’s e-sales and overseas purchase figures will only continue to rise. Will this be a new shopping trend? Will this affect the daigous’ business? Will this harm local sales? It’s too early to tell, but it’s never too early to say “maybe”.

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