Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese Cross-Border E-Commerce: Interview with DHgate’s Founder Diane Wang

On Jan. 14, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) reported that the total value of China’s cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) exports in 2020 reached 1.12 trillion yuan with a surge of 40.1% from 2019.

China’s cross-border e-commerce saw skyrocketing growth in the past few years, with plenty of Chinese e-commerce giants looking for new opportunities expanding overseas. 

(Source: DHgate)

DHgate, a business-to-business (B2B) CBEC platform, is one of China’s leading cross-border e-commerce platforms. Founded in 2004, DHgate mainly sells manufactured products from suppliers to small retailers and serves more than 31 million cumulative registered buyers, covering 222 regions, and connects them to over 2.2 million suppliers globally, with over 32 million products listed on its website.

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“Cross-border e-commerce plays a significant role in promoting China’s international trade. It is an essential pathway for the country to mitigate the severe damage the pandemic has brought to the traditional form of trading,” said Diane Wang, the founder and chairperson of DHgate.

Diane told Pandaily that she believes the total sales volume in China’s CBEC segment will account for more than 30% of China’s total foreign trade value in 2031 due to the rapid growth of this industry. 

(Source: DHgate)

The pandemic surely had a devastating influence on international trade. According to Diane, DHgate’s whole supply chain, including factories, logistics, and seas of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) were severely affected in Q1 last year. However, thanks to the advanced digitalization of the platform such as AI and big data, the firm reversed the epidemic backlash and even broke many of its own records in 2020.  

According to the DHgate’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reports, the total sales volume of home appliances soared 15 times compared with last year’s, while the sales volume for medical protective goods surged over 1,000 times compared to last year. 

(Source: DHgate)

As a first-generation Internet entrepreneur in China, Diane is hoping to connect MSMEs to the world via an online platform that has no trade barriers.