Barry Aldridge MCIM – Head of Marketing for Derby-based Tidyco, a supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the UK rail industry for over 40 years; here discusses trading opportunities with China.

I write about the value of stakeholders on a regular basis and firmly believe in maximising upon all available support. Recent attendance of a DIT (Department for International Trade) e-commerce exporting workshop opened my eyes to lucrative opportunities regarding online trading with China.

The tutor, Charlie Ruigrok was exceptional and taught me that China alone spends a staggering £497 billion a year via e-commerce. When considering this figure; it seems foolish not to attempt acuisition of just a fraction of China’s market share.

Furthermore, subsequent meetings with both Chinese business people as well as Ambassadors have enlightened me to the fact that China wants to buy from Great Britain. The Chinese market generally feels empathy towards the British quality ethos and wishes to purchase a multitude of British brands.

According to, Chinese e-commerce is set to be worth £610 billion by 2020. Furthermore, over half of e-commerce payments are made via Alipay. Alipay is three times the size of PayPal.

Having never previously considered China as a viable route to market, I set about conducting some research.

WeChat is the app of choice whereby the Chinese Government has banned typical Western social media platforms. The power of WeChat is that it is an all-in-one app capable of social media, payment and messaging functionality… As well as much, much more!

Another barrier to digital penetration is what is known as the Great Firewall of China whereby all traffic is monitored by the Chinese Government, making western content incredibly slow to load.

The first step in the China Story felt powerfully obvious. Analytics tells me that there is a great deal of China traffic to the Tidyco online store with poor conversion rates. So, I set about registering for an Alipay account and was successful. Next on the to-do list was to task my web developer with integrating Alipay within the commerce site itself.

The traffic is there so it seems prudent to provide a preferred payment option.

The process was far from easy but; Alipay is now live. The next step was to create a Chinese subdirectory domain further bolstered by a standalone Chinese landing page.

Interestingly, I chose to go off-brand whereby the Tidyco corporate blue was replaced with a warm red, typically associated with prosperity.
Of great importance was to ensure that the landing page was professionally translated.

With the building blocks in place, it then became imperative to submit the cn site to Baidu (China’s Google).

I attended the recently held Global Britain, Global Derby seminar, diligently organised by the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Marketing Derby. To my delight, the event was primarily concerned with Chinese commerce where I was interested to learn that there is territorial UK Ambassador presence within the country. Near future endeavours will witness me researching how best to capitalise upon such meaningful UK representation.

During the conference, I conveniently found myself sitting with Lily Fu who as I found out; just so happens to be a UK China Business Consultant. I do have a habit of being in the right place at the right time!

We engaged and I explained to Lily recent digital activity so as to sell to China.

Moving on, I have just today attended the E-commerce – Selling Your Products Direct to the Chinese Consumer workshop, professionally orchestrated by D2N2 Digital Growth Hub. Jon Egley and the team do a Stirling job of creating beneficial events whereby today’s adventure has found me conversing with Lanting Zhang, a specialist in Chinese translation and UK China relations.

Arriving early, I asked Jack Porteous of the China-Britain Business Council if he was impressed by my initial work. Jack quite simply replied; “Yes!”

That will do for me!

This is the China Story Part 1 for good reason; we are merely at the humble beginnings of our journey. There is great potential to maximise from WeChat.

Further down the line, I envisage 3PL and Chinese commerce platform integration.

I am also arranging meetings with relevant individuals so as to understand how Tidyco can best serve the Chinese rail industry. The idea being that the brand is well respected within the UK rail industry which ultimately lends itself to transferable service offerings within a global marketplace.

Exciting times ahead!

From Left to Right; Rubina Blackwell, Jon Egley, Barry Aldridge and Lanting Zhang.

About the author

Barry Aldridge MCIM

Head of Marketing at Tidyco Limited and member of the Board of Directors for Midlands Rail Forum.