Royal Mail announces China link-up through Alibaba's Tmall

A Royal Mail postal van is parked outside homes in Maybury near Woking in southern England March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Royal Mail is joining Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall Global’s online marketplace, hoping to link small British companies with Chinese consumers and boost trade for its overseas parcels business.

Alibaba’s Tmall Global is Asia’s largest business-to-consumer retail platform, connecting 302 million online Chinese consumers with virtual store fronts and payment portals, Royal Mail said.

It said its Tmall online shop front, which will launch later this month, would provide consumers with access to small- and medium-sized British retailers and exporters who want to do business in China, but do not have the means to do so alone.

Royal Mail will handle the necessary documentation for the firms, as well as things such as marketing, promotions and customer services.

In return, Royal Mail will receive commission on the sale of products and revenue for shipping them through its Parcelforce express unit.

China is the biggest international consumer of British products online, accounting for 25 percent of overseas online shoppers purchasing goods from the UK, according to Royal Mail.

Fast-growing British bike maker Brompton Bicycles, whose fold-up bikes help commuters navigate busy cities around the world, is one of the firms that has signed up to the partnership.

Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by David Clarke