Crossing Borders, Changing Times. A new model for international e-commerce has strong implications for China s bonded logistics property market

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1 Crossing Borders, Changing Times A new model for international e-commerce has strong implications for China s bonded logistics property market

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3 Contents Introduction 04 Chapter I - The Rise of Cross-Border E-commerce in China 05 A Surging Market 06 Existing Models 07 The New Model 07 Governments Compete to Create a Platform 08 The Development of Cross-Border E-Commerce 10 Chapter II Opportunity for Bonded Logistics Property 11 A Model Based Around Bonded Logistics 11 Where the Demand Will Go 12 How It Works 13 The Platform 14 Where They Spend 15 Space Becomes Scarce 16 New Faces: A Change in Tenants 17 Conclusion 18 Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 3

4 Introduction Several Chinese cities have been designated as pilots for crossborder e-commerce since the end of 2012, including Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Chongqing, and Guangzhou, with more to come. This relatively recent type of trade has already begun to create opportunities for the bonded logistics property market in Shanghai s Free Trade Zone. As the crossborder e-commerce sector continues to grow in China, these pilot cities will serve as both models for policy and a preview of the impact on bonded logistics property across China. Colliers International Research has assessed the impact of the crossborder e-commerce trade on Shanghai s Free Trade Zone, since the zone s official designation in September 2013, to identify opportunities and challenges in this market. 4 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

5 Chapter I The Rise of Cross-Border E-commerce in China Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 5

6 A Surging Market Cross-border e-commerce is gaining popularity in China, allowing consumers to easily and directly shop online from merchants around world, with big tax savings, improved logistics and assured consumer protection. In China, this new model of e-commerce has seen significant growth and changes during the past few years, as China s e-commerce market has rapidly developed (Figure 1). China now has the world s strongest online consumer base, with the number of online shoppers reaching approximately 361 million in 2014, an annual increase of 19.7%, according to industry research firms (Figure 2). The average online spending per capita in China was approximately USD1,000 in 2013, compared to other countries where this figure is in excess of USD1,500 (Figure 3). That said, cross-border e-commerce in China is in the early stages. Total import-export sales for cross-border e-commerce in China have seen a CAGR of 34.8% from RMB900 billion in 2009 to RMB4.0 trillion in 2014 (Figure 4). However, postal data shows that only a small fraction of this amount can be attributed to online consumers. According to the National Postal Bureau, China s total express delivery volume was approximately 14 billion parcels in 2014, but cross-border express delivery accounted for just 2.3% of the total. According to industry research firms, the value of imports was estimated to be just 13% of the total cross-border e-commerce trade, or approximately RMB53 billion. As consumers in China adopt new online shopping habits, this figure will undoubtedly grow. Roland Berger, a consulting firm, estimated in a 2014 report that transactions through bonded online shopping will account for half of all e-commerce imports in China in the near future. Figure 1: Growth of Online Retail Market Sales (B2C) 110% 90% 70% 50% 30% 10% -10% e* 2015e* -30% China South Korea Japan US UK *Note: as of end-2014 Source: emarketer, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Figure 2: Number of Online Shoppers million pax % China US Japan UK e* Growth from 2012 Growth from 2013 *Note: as of end-2014 Source: Payvision, Statista, CNNIC, Research, Colliers International, % 20% 15% 10% 5% Figure 3: Average Online Spending Figure 4: Cross-Border E-commerce Sales in China USD per capita 2,500 2,000 1,500 1, China US Japan UK Source: Payvision, Statista, CNNIC, Research, Colliers International, 2015 RMB trillion e* Cross-Border E-commerce Sales *Note: as of end-2014 Source: iresearch, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Change y-o-y 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 6 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

7 Existing Models Ordering products from overseas websites is not a new idea in China. There are currently two existing ways for a consumer in China to buy products online from overseas retailers. One existing model for ordering from abroad is dai gou ( 代 购 ), or purchasing via a representative shopper essentially an unofficial, small-scale importer. A second model is to purchase from websites directly. Both models avoid import taxes, as packages enter the country as personal items and often declare low values in order to avoid or reduce their tax liability. While these models may potentially save the consumer money on customs duties, they also raise issues related to language barriers (shopping on websites in foreign languages), a lack of buyer protection (most warranties for items sold abroad are not valid in China), and a potential seizure of the goods by Customs. In addition, the consumer must pay for international shipping and often accept a shipping delay, as international shipping can take from days from order to delivery. In addition, there are informal personal networks for bringing goods from abroad. In many cases, Chinese travelling overseas will make large purchases on behalf of family members, friends and colleagues, and then bring these goods into China in their luggage. The New Model The formalisation of e-commerce import creates a third model, in which a customer places an order via a government-affiliated platform, or is taken to a company s website via this platform, and then pays a fixed 10% import tax (in most cases), lower than typical import taxes. This model requires the retailer to set up a customer service channel in China, with service in Chinese, to handle returns and customer complaints. The policy behind this model allows companies to store goods tax-free in a bonded warehouse in the free trade zone of a pilot city, which then cuts the delivery time. The retailer does not pay tax until the product leaves the free trade zone. This model resolves the issues related to language barriers, after-sales service, potential seizure by Customs, shopping via a third-party, as in the dai gou system, and long delivery times. In return, it guarantees that Customs will collect a 10% import tax on products that might have otherwise been sent as personal parcels, and not paid tax at all.

8 Governments Compete to Create a Platform All of the pilots use the same bonded online shopping model. But it appears the central government is fostering competition among them, as each city has created, or is in the process of creating, its own website to sell directly to the public (Figure 5). To date, six of the cities have created websites that act as a sales platform or online store, allowing customers to buy overseas items directly via the government-approved website. Shenzhen, whose website basically acts as a promotional platform but does not sell directly to the public, is the exception. Figure 5: Cross-border E-commerce Service Platform By City Shanghai Service Platform: Kuajingtong Website: Online shopping platform founded by government-backed company Guangzhou Service Platform: Jinkouyi Website: Government-approved pilot online shopping platform founded by local company Zhengzhou Service Platform: Wgyp Website: Government-approved pilot online shopping platform founded by local company Hangzhou Service Platform: Kjeport Website: Online shopping platform founded by government-backed company Ningbo Service Platform: Kuajinggou Website: shopping platform founded by governmentbacked company Chongqing Service Platform: Iget Mall Website: Online shopping platform founded by government-backed company Shenzhen Service Platform: Szceb Website: Promotional platform for cross-border e-commerce, not shopping platform Source: Platform websites, Research, Colliers International, 2015 The goods on these sites tend to be from the food and beverage, electronics and appliances, baby care, cosmetic, and apparel and accessory categories, and for the moment, are mainly from Japan, the US, Netherlands, Korea and Germany. However, customers on the internet are not restricted to buying from their local cross-border website. For example, a customer in Guangzhou, which has its own platform, is able to shop on Kuajingtong, Shanghai s platform, with no restrictions. Judging from this behaviour, it appears the government is promoting competition among the platforms, and it is likely that the most well-received platform will ultimately be adopted by all the cities. 8 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

9 A survey of cross-border e-commerce sites on the internet and media research found that Shanghai and Hangzhou have the most developed cross-border e-commerce markets to date (Figure 6). In Shanghai, Amazon, Yihaodian and Tmall all have strong presences and have all leased warehousing for this business. In an interesting twist, Amazon announced in March that they have conducted part of their business via Tmall, giving rise to the term coopetition a combination of competition and cooperation. In Hangzhou, Tmall International, JD.com, Q.city and SFHT.com are already present, and have leased space or publicly announced deals with the Customs Bureau. Both Q.city and SFHT.com (Shunfeng Haitao) are cross-border online retail platforms, respectively founded by a local company in Hangzhou and Shunfeng Express. In Guangzhou, Ningbo, Zhengzhou, Chongqing and Shenzhen, Tmall is the major market player, and has either announced deals with Customs that will allow it to operate the bonded online shopping model or established warehousing. Figure 6: Cross-border E-commerce Pilot City and Market Players City Established Operation Area Market Player Shanghai 2012 China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Amazon, Yihaodian, Tmall International Hangzhou 2012 Hangzhou Bonded Logistics Center Tmall International, JD.com, Q.city, SFHT Guangzhou 2013 Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Bonded Zone, Nansha Free Trade Zone Tmall International Ningbo 2012 Ningbo Free Trade Zone Tmall International Zhengzhou 2012 Henan Bonded Logistics Center Tmall International Chongqing 2012 Chongqing Xiyong Integrated Free Trade Zone Tmall International Shenzhen 2014 Qianhai Free Trade Port Zone Tmall International Main Product Categories: Main Countries of Origin: France Korea Germany Japan Netherlands US Australia Source: Platform websites, Research, Colliers International, 2015 If a bag of nuts sells for nearly RMB100 in the US, it would sell at RMB120 via the approved channels, while the price would be close to RMB190 if it is imported in a traditional manner. Alibaba Source: Ministry of Commerce, July 2014 Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 9

10 The Development of Cross-Border E-Commerce To date, the central government has designated seven cities as the pilots for cross-border e-commerce, with several more, including Xi an, Qingdao, Yantai, and Wuhan currently in the application stage. The general evolution of the development of this sector and the related policy is summarised below. Key Events or Policies 2008 December 2012 September 2013 March 2014 April 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 January 2015 January 2015 January 2015 March 2015 March 2015 A widespread scandal about the quality of domestic milk products led to a rise in the prices of imported milk products. Consumers responded by directly ordering milk products online from foreign websites, which were both cheaper and had a wider range of products. The central government designated Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou and Chongqing as pilot cities for cross-border e-commerce development. Guangzhou designated pilot city. The Customs Bureau allows an existing tax known as xing you shui ( 行 邮 税 ) to be applied to goods stored in or transhipped through the bonded areas of the six pilot cities. xing you shui In order to qualify for the xing you shui tax, which is lower than the standard import tax on foreign goods, packages must either have a total value of less than RMB1,000 or contain only one item, though its value may exceed RMB1,000. Such packages must be identified as self-use and the tax can only be applied this way in pilot cities. Companies involved in e-commerce import in Shanghai (via sales, payment, logistics or warehousing) must register with Shanghai Customs, via the Shanghai Oriental Electronic Payment system. China s Customs Bureau requires customs clearance for all cross-border e-commerce. Shenzhen designated pilot city. Amazon opens cross-border store via Kuajingtong. Yihaodian begins sales of imported items using the cross-border model. Costco enters the China market for the first time with cross-border store via Tmall International. The Central Government calls for faster issuance of new guidelines to support the development of cross-border e-commerce. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology allows overseas investors to wholly own an online transaction or data processing company in Shanghai s FTZ. Zhejiang Province issues a three-year plan for the development of cross-border e-commerce ( ). The Shanghai Waigaoqiao Group opens online shop using the cross-border model Amazon opens import flagship store via Tmall. The State Council approves the setup of the China (Hangzhou) cross-border e-commerce pilot zone in Hangzhou. Event Policy 10 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

11 Chapter II Opportunity for Bonded Logistics Property A Model Based Around Bonded Logistics The new model outlined in the previous chapter relies on bonded logistics storage as a fundamental part of its implementation. As such, growth in cross-border e-commerce will directly translate into demand for bonded logistics storage. Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 11

12 Where the Demand Will Go Lingang and the Pudong Airport zone (both part of Shanghai s broader Free Trade Zone, established in September 2013) are most likely to absorb the demand for bonded warehousing from potential tenants in the short- to mid-term. The Pudong Airport zone was the first zone approved by Customs to operate cross-border e-commerce in Shanghai s FTZ, and this is where Kuajingtong s warehouse is located. According to the warehouse s landlord, they have signed leasing agreements with several new foreign suppliers since the launch of Kuajingtong, and are in negations with several more. By the end of 2014, they had leased more than 10,000 sqm to tenants involved in the cross-border e-commerce business, and plan to add an additional 50,000 sqm of bonded warehouse area in the short term. As such, the airport zone will become increasingly attractive as a location for international retailers, e-commerce companies and third-party providers operating in the cross-border e-commerce market. Its prime location, in proximity to downtown, as well as its well-developed infrastructure and air logistics services, will be highly attractive to those looking to enter this market segment. Lingang is also expected to benefit. Factors including extensive shipping lines (connected to more than 300 global ports), availability of modern logistics facilities and relatively low rental will make it a destination for cross-border e-commerce goods arriving by ocean. However, this assumes Customs approval to operate the bonded online shopping model (Figure 8). While it has yet to be granted, it is widely expected to receive approval in Lingang will present a unique opportunity for importers involved in cross-border e-commerce. The rise of Big Data and advanced predictive analysis of consumer behaviour, coupled with the ability to hold an inventory in Shanghai without paying tax (until the goods are actually ordered and delivered to the consumer), will reduce the time-sensitive nature of shipping and allow companies to ship products via ocean freight, at much lower costs than air freight. Electronics, luxury goods and baby products will be particularly well-suited to the ocean shipping/bonded storage model. Demand for bonded logistics space in Lingang has seen higher levels of absorption in the past two to three years, following several slow years. The development of modern logistics facilities and new policies related to Shanghai s FTZ have sparked interest from commodity/future traders for space in this zone for metal or high-value commodity storage. However, Lingang has space and a plan to expand, unlike Waigaoqiao, where available land is extremely limited. According to publicly announced plans for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Lingang s total built area will increase from its current 1.11 million sqm (approximately) to 5.3 million sqm, and part of this stock will be specifically designated for the cross-border e-commerce sector. Finally, Lingang will offer cost advantages. Though average rental levels here have been growing steadily since 2011, the current average rent for bonded warehousing property in this zone is RMB1.06 psm per day. Figure 7: Occupancy by Region in the Shanghai FTZ as of end-2014 Figure 8: Average Rent and Vacancy Rate in Lingang and Pudong Airport Waigaoqiao 100% N Pudong Airport 79% RMB psm per day % % % % Lingang 97% % 10% 0% Lingang Average Rent Pudong Airport Average Rent Lingang Vacancy Rate Pudong Airport Vacancy Rate Source: Research, Colliers International,2015 Source: Research, Colliers International, Big Data: according to Wikipedia, Big Data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate, Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

13 How It Works A mix of overseas products are imported and stored in bonded warehousing space in bulk, with the variety of goods depending on a particular retailer s sales forecast and strategy. Once an order is placed, the goods are sent from the bonded warehouse to consumers by domestic express companies. The importer only becomes responsible for tax, applied via the xing you shui tax rate, at this stage. American retailer Costco has already taken advantage of this new policy to launch a store on Tmall International in October The company started with nuts, fish oil and dried fruits, based on the shopping behaviour of Tmall consumers, and sold 6,000 pounds (approximately 2,700 kg) of nut products and 3,000 pounds (approximately 1,360 kg) of dried fruit in a single three-day period. According to Alibaba, more than 60% of Tmall International s orders are fulfilled via the bonded online shopping model. This model presents significant advantages for both consumers and Customs. For consumers, it ensures buyer protection and cuts down on delivery times. For Customs, it reduces the amount of directly shipped packages that must be handled and, in theory, reduces the number of untaxed parcels entering the country. Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 13

14 The Platform Another fundamental part of the new model is an online platform through which all of the transactions take place. Each pilot city has developed, or is in the process of developing, its own platform. In Shanghai, the approved platform for cross-border e-commerce is named Kuajingtong. It was launched in December 2013 in Shanghai s Free Trade Zone, making it the first cross-border e-commerce platform nationwide. The website (www.kuajingtong.com) now offers approximately 10,000 products from more than 30 overseas suppliers, including those from Korea, Japan, Australia, USA, Italy and France. International e-commerce companies, including Amazon and Yihaodian, are now working with Kuajingtong to handle logistics, warehousing and online payments for their cross-border e-commerce sales. While there are competing platforms, such as Tmall International (tmall.hk), launched by Alibaba in early 2014, Kuajingtong appears to be gaining traction with international retailers interested in this market sector. 14 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

15 Where They Spend The United States is the most popular marketplace for Chinese online shoppers, with goods from the country accounting for 47% of total cross-border sales (followed by Japan and the UK), according to industry research firms (Figure 9). According to Alipay, which processes the majority of online transactions in China, the online sales volume of goods from the US grew by more than 250% between July 2013 and July In addition to the US, Japan and the UK, Alipay counts regions or countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Sweden, The Netherlands and Denmark among the top 10 most popular areas for Chinese online shoppers (Figure 10). Figure 9: Top 5 Destinations of Chinese E-shoppers 50% Figure 10: Top 10 Destinations of Chinese E-shoppers Sweden Netherlands Japan Hong Kong 40% Denmark U.K. South Korea Taiwan Malaysia US 30% 20% 10% 0 US Japan UK France New Zealand % of cross-border sales Source: The Paypers, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Source: Alipay, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Many American and UK companies are already gearing up to launch in China, according to a survey conducted by NTT Communications in early 2014, which interviewed 200 decision-makers of UK and US companies involved in e-commerce and found mainland China to be the most popular destination for expansion among these companies (Figure 11). Cross-border e-commerce will offer a feasible path for these companies to enter the Chinese market. Figure 11: In the next twelve months, in which of these regions is your organisation looking to expand the selling of goods / services via e-commerce? Mainland China Hong Kong Taiwan Singapore South Korea India Japan Thailand Australia Malaysia Indonesia 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Source: NTT Communications, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 15

16 Space Becomes Scarce Between 2011 and 2014, the vacancy rate of Shanghai s bonded warehousing space decreased from 19.8% to 5.4% (Figure 12), as throughput at both Waigaoqiao Port and Yangshan Port increased to near-capacity levels (Figure 13). As such, the increase in demand for bonded warehousing space driven by e-commerce is happening right as stocks of suitable property are dwindling. This has been reflected in an increase in rentals for bonded warehouses in Shanghai, from RMB1.23 psm per day in 2013 to RMB1.27 psm per day in 2014, an annual increase of 3.0% (Figure 14). Demand is only expected to increase, with a series of new policies beneficial to foreign investors either issued or under consideration, as well as the government s efforts to further expand throughput capacity at the ports. Figure 12: New Supply, Net Absorption and Vacancy Rate in the Shanghai FTZ sqm 400,000 25% Figure 14: Average Rent for Bonded Logistics Facilities in the Shanghai FTZ RMB psm per day % 350, , , , , ,000 50,000 20% 15% 10% 5% % 6.0% 5.0% 4.0% 3.0% 2.0% 1.0% New Suppply Net Absorption Vacancy Rate Average Rent Change y-o-y 0.0% Source: Research, Colliers International, 2015 Source: Research, Colliers International, 2015 Figure 13: TEU Throughput of the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Port and Yangshan Port 000 TEU 18,000 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2, * Yangshan Port Waigaoqiao Port *Note: as of October 2014 Source: Research, Colliers International, Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

17 New Faces: A Change in Tenants Tenants for bonded logistics facilities are evolving. Historically, the manufacturing and trading industries have been the primary tenants at these facilities. This is already changing as companies from the retail, e-commerce and logistics industries are beginning to lease bonded logistics facilities, and international retailers, developers and operators are becoming increasingly interested in this sector. For foreign retailers, the new policy will allow them to enter the China market without making a prohibitively large capital investment, in what is often considered one of the most challenging global e-commerce markets (Figure 15). Difficulties include tax regulations and compliance, shipping difficulties and cost, commodity inspection and payment settlement. Figure 15: Please rank the Asian regions in order of how challenging they are for you to deliver e-commerce. Mainland China Hong Kong Japan Taiwan India Indonesia Malaysia Singapore Australia South Korea Thailand 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Source: NTT Communications, Research, Colliers International, 2015 Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, has said that now is the opportunity for small foreign businesses to sell directly to Chinese consumers, as the new model will create a clear sales channel: selling directly to consumers online (in this case, presumably through Alibaba s cross-border platform). Companies that sell baby formula, health care, cosmetics and skin care the top-selling products for Chinese consumers for the past three years, according to Alibaba will find strong demand, as will high-fashion clothing and luxury goods, the fastest-growing product categories for online shopping worldwide between July 2013 and July Colliers International April 2015 Crossing Borders, Changing Times 17

18 Conclusion The rise of e-commerce in China has already had massive implications for the country s logistics system and property market. Now, this change is coming to bonded zones, as bonded online shopping offers a way for Chinese consumers to safely buy from foreign countries, eliminating uncertainty related to after-service, tax burdens, customs clearance and delivery times. This new model has already created opportunities for a number of e-commerce companies and logistics developers, including both Amazon and Alibaba s entries to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and other bonded zones in pilot cities. As this sector evolves, the implications for both prospective and existing landlords and tenants of bonded warehousing space in all pilot cities will be significant. From changes in everything from the range of products to shipping options, the apparently simple act of ordering a product from abroad will have deep and profound effects on the bonded logistics property market. Retailers, investors and developers with the right knowledge of policy, consumer behaviour, and the logistics industry will be well-placed to benefit. 18 Crossing Borders, Changing Times April 2015 Colliers International

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20 502 offices in 67 countries on 6 continents United States: 140 Canada: 31 Latin America: 24 Asia : 39 ANZ: 160 EMEA: 108 For further information, please contact: Carlby Xie MSc, MRICS Director Research China George Yeung Managing Director North China Jacky Tsai Managing Director Southwest China Lina Wong MRICS, CCIM Managing Director East and Southwest China Investment Services China Eric Lam Managing Director South China PRC Institutional Client Services China $2.3 billion in annual revenue Colliers International Shanghai 16F Hong Kong New World Tower 300 Huai Hai Zhong Road PRC TEL billion square feet under management 16,300 professionals and staff About Colliers International Colliers International is a global leader in commercial real estate services, with over 16,300 professionals operating out of more than 502 offices in 67 countries. A subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, Colliers International delivers a full range of services to real estate users, owners and investors worldwide, including global corporate solutions, brokerage, property and asset management, hotel investment sales and consulting, valuation, consulting and appraisal services, mortgage banking and insightful research. The latest annual survey by the Lipsey Company ranked Colliers International as the second-most recognized commercial real estate firm in the world. colliers.com Disclaimer: This document has been prepared by Colliers International for advertising and general information only. Colliers International makes no guarantees, representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, regarding the information including, but not limited to, warranties of content, accuracy and reliability. Any interested party should undertake their own inquiries as to the accuracy of the information. Colliers International excludes unequivocally all inferred or implied terms, conditions and warranties arising out of this document and excludes all liability for loss and damages arising there from. This publication is the copyrighted property of Colliers International and/or its licensor(s) All rights reserved.

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