How to Sell Your Products to China Online as a Foreign Company

A foreign firm wants its products to sell to China online can be challenging to understand the legal requirements and the best avenues to focus on. For protecting its domestic market, China maintains tight restrictions and control on selling foreign products to Chinese customers. Information on the best ways to sell goods in China and the legal procedure are only available in Chinese and change frequently. Therefore, several foreign investors are not aware of some of the necessary legal requirements to sell in China, such as obtaining an ICP license or setting up a WFOE.

Getting Started

In other parts of the world where big names in social media, video streaming, and search engines dominate the digital space, in China, the most popular platforms are blocked, and in their place, Chinese apps reign the market place. The first step is to familiarize you with China’s digital marketplace. China has a flourishing e-commerce industry and the world’s biggest e-commerce market that constitutes over 50 percent of the world’s e-commerce transactions presently happening in China. Although the channels are different, several e-commerce concepts will be familiar to those who are already selling online internationally. Picking a few of the most suitable channels for marketing and sell to China online is the key to ensure you are using your investment wisely and never spread yourself too thin as a new entrant in the market. You can start with, Tmall, and Taobao that currently dominate e-commerce in China.

Legal requirements to sell in China

It is vital to understand that various social media and e-commerce platforms in China have different rules. When using those platforms, you need to follow their regulations when selling the goods. Firstly, for selling and advertising on various platforms, you need to own a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) in China. It is a complicated procedure to set up a WFOE in China, and for that, you need to hire a local agency that can walk you with all the necessary steps.

After getting a WFOE, you have to apply for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license to work with various platforms. ICP licenses are of two types, namely Commercial and Non-Commercial ICP License. The commercial one allows you to host a commercial website in China, usually an e-commerce site. In contrast, the non-commercial permits to host sites used only for informational purposes, and the license do not include any direct sales.

Registering for an ICP gives you the legal authority to advertise and sell on various social media and e-commerce platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Baidu, Tmall, Taobao, and many others. This will also help you to gain trust from the users. Even if ICP registration is not that difficult, it is a lengthy process and takes two to four weeks. The registration procedure is available only in Simplified Chinese, so you must hire a local Chinese company to apply on your behalf.


Westwin offers digital marketing services such as search engine marketing, social media marketing, strategic consulting, display advertising, website localization, WeChat & Weibo advertising, and cross border eCommerce services. To know more, visit

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