"928 Daigou Crackdown" at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Image via China National Radio
Daigou (代购) literally translates to "buying on behalf", or "surrogate shopping" in English. Originally started as a means for locals to obtain hard-to-find foreign products through friends and family members who are overseas, Daigou rapidly evolved into a lucrative industry with what is now known as Daigou syndicates. Daigou syndicates are groups of professionals who purchase commodities for customers in China while circumventing any importation taxes and tariffs that may be incurred through official importation methods.
The benefits to consumers are numerous; from being able to purchase products that are not available in the local market, to the lower cost of products for luxury items. At the same time, there are risks presented through this unofficial method of importation. Due to the lack of regulation of Daigou, one of the highest risks is in the authenticity and the quality of the products, particularly in the purchasing of products from Daigou syndicates.
To curtail the negative impacts of Daigou, the Chinese government has started cracking down on Daigous, most infamously through the 928 Daigou crackdown incident, a day of airing footage of Daigous being searched and fined at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport as a warning to potential Daigous. Furthermore, to encourage consumers to purchase through legitimate means, the Chinese government has introduced new cross border e-commerce policies, at the same time allowing more foreign merchants ease-of-access to the Chinese market.
3. Cross Border E-Commerce