As of 2014 the Chinese e-commerce represents:

  • 632 millions of Chinese netizens amongst which 527 millions use their phone to stay online almost all the time
  • 271 millions e-shopper over the whole year 2013
  • 47, 6 billion RMB spent online and 1 trillion expected in 2015

The on-line buying habits of Chinese e-shoppers are more and more stable which shows that this market will soon be mature (iresearch)

What does it mean for brands wishing to be part of the Chinese e-commerce?

Habits are more stables, more easily foreseen. Consequently, marketing strategy are more efficient and give better return…on the flip side customers expectations are higher.

With a market like this you have to use the right strategies. What are they?

This article will give you a presentation of the most efficient strategies from website-building to content diffusion and to finish payment system used in China.

The website

In China use .cn

 Before anything else you must have your website hosted in China and have a domain name in .cn for better visibility.

This is done by applying to the CNNIC, http://www1.cnnic.cn/IS/CNym/cnymyhfaq/

Once that is done and your demand has been granted you must follow the rules cited below to attract the Chinese e-shoppers.

The layout of the website

  • Your website must be in simplified Chinese characters
  • The web pages must be quick to load

The internet is not as quick as it is in Europe or in the US; this means that pages including big videos, high resolution non-web friendly pictures will make you lose a lot of traffic thus a lot of potential clients. Indeed, the wide demand gives customers a lot of choices, so if it takes too much time they will grow impatient and go elsewhere to buy what they need.

  • A main page with as much information as possible

Take a look at the screen shot below:

First Taobao, the reference in Chinese e-commerce

Taobao good example

Here are the rules to follow when you design a website aimed at Chinese netizens :
• Price
• Payment method
• Trolley at the bottom right that shows at one glance what you have bought
• Premium deals

These information have to be readily available at the first glance without having to change page or scroll down
What is seen at the first glance is what is the most important. Chinese customers are very demanding and will seek premium deals, price cut before anything else. Here, as you can see Taobao meet their need.

Ebay

E-bay was chosen as an example of western-type website.
Right after arriving on the page you see a well-designed website with very little information about prices. You even have to scroll down to start seeing information about what is for sale.

This brings us to another key factor : content

You need quality content, which means:

Content that has a high added value, giving the most relevant information right away according to the customer, prices at the top of that list of course.
This content must be written in a clear and concise manner. Indeed, Chinese customer being as demanding as they are, they will not waste time trying to figure out what your description means even if your product is the 7th wonder.
It is therefore critical to write clear and short descriptions in Mandarin Chinese getting right to the point.

To finish with the website itself one word: Quickness.
Quickness to load, and quickness to be understood by the client

Raising your brand awareness on the Chinese internet using SEO

Baidu SEO

Once your website responds to the criteria given above, you must have it taken into account by a search engine.
So, once a customer type specific keywords pertaining to your products your website will show up on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). For China, you have to follow Baidu guidelines. The Chinese search engine holds 80% of the Chinese Search Engines Market Share

Why Search Engine Optimisation?

A good website alone may attract clients but will not have the visibility it deserves since your brand is unknown in China. You must work on how to be found: S.E.O

The objective here is to have a good ranking on the right key words, ideally the first result on the result page. Achieving this will ensure that you are always highly visible by your potential customers every time they use the search engine.
At the bare minimum, the first page has to be reached in order to be visible by the bulk of the queries.
Indeed, 85% of the people using a search engine stop at the first page

We, Gentlemen Marketing Agency can help you rank first.

In other words, someone whose website ranks at the second page loses 85% of its potential customers

With a good SEO marketing campaign you can have your trafic increased by 70% which translates into 70% more chances to have leads.

Premium deals and price cut are the key

Culturally speaking, lowering prices is very important. When you are in China you will quickly notice that finding the best deal is a national practice. Whether you are at a fashion shop or at a supermarket it is one and the same: best deals come first even if it only allows them to save a few yuan.
Unless a Chinese customer has no choice he will always go for the bargained item. With this you have to adapt to better your chances of transforming a simple tourist into a buyer

The dialogue between buyer and seller is very important

Discussing with the seller is culturally as important as finding the best prices for Chinese in order to discuss every single aspect of the product sold. Therefore you need to have people ready to answer your customers’ questions via a help line or an on-line chat.
This way you will show seriousness, professionalism, two key elements for doing business in China.

Your website e-reputation is everything

In order to improve your brand image in China you will have to be active on specialised forums in order to manage your e-reputation, observe your customers reactions. Chinese e-shoppers like to exchange their views and impressions about a brand.

Here is one good example: Meilishuo, fashion website targetting young women.

Of course every sector has its specialized forums like this one.
Here is someone’s review of a hello kitty product

User review Hello Kitty

Bottom right you can see that 36 people have also reviewed this product and 102 liked it. This sort of activity is much more common in China than it is in Europe for instance. This is a big difference that has to be kept in mind.

Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo

In addition to the specialized forums there are also key Chinese SNS such as Sina Weibo and its 500 million registered users. This is a social network useful for raising brand awareness. However, it will not bring many leads by itself.

 

Wechat

Wechat

Wechat is the contender when it comes to Chinese social networks. It starts getting noticed in the West as well.

Using official accounts you can use it to spread news about your brand such as new products, services, price cut. Bottom line, this tool allows you to increase your customer brand loyalty.

These methods listed in this article have to be followed in order to build and preserve your customers brand loyalty. With the multiple scandals that have been uncovered these past few years, e-shoppers have become most distrustful

You must do everything to reassure them

So here your client is, trusting and ready to buy your product, in fact he is about to pay…using what?

Paying for the good must not exceed three steps at most otherwise chances are you will lose a lot of customers this way that will prefer to see your competitors rather than buy your products.

In addition, forget Paypal and the like, in China it is Alipay, from the group Alibaba or Tencent from the Tencent group

Conclusion

The Chinese e-commerce market is different from the western market. The Chinese customer mood is quite fickle and changes often. However if you are active and choose to act smart by choosing experts in the digital marketing you will have a golden opportunity to be successful at e-commerce in China

Further readings