China is the world’s most populous country and most of its inhabitants, for the young generations at least, like to be connected to the Internet as much as possible. That is why the number of internet users in the country has logically reached the huge number of 634 million.
Chinese e-commerce’s huge potential
In 2012, 242 million Chinese were buying online. Thanks to them, the total value of the number of transactions in the Chinese e-commerce was of 218 billion euros in 2012. This number grew of 40% and reached 354 billion euros in 2013. So much that the Chinese ecommerce is expected to surpass the American, Germany, England, Japan and France ecommerce market altogether by 2020!
In the country where counterfeit rules, Chinese buyers like the possibility to buy the “Made in America” quality. American brands are seen as a better option by the flourishing middle-class buyers who do not recognize themselves in the values claimed by European luxury brands.
So that more and more well-known foreign brands, especially American ones are trying to enter China’s booming ecommerce market.
Strategy to enter Chinese e-commerce
The first step is to open a website representing the brand on the Chinese ecommerce. It is essential for this website to be in Chinese and hosted in China.
It will help it to be well ranked by Baidu, China’s leading search engine.
Chinese internet users are used to different website standards. It is therefore important to change a few features to make your website appealing to Chinese. Quality content according to Chinese is a lot of precise information about the products with photos and videos.
Chinese e-customers hate to waste their time, it is even more visible on the purchase process, it has to be short, no more than 3 steps.
The prices of the products have to be lower on the brand’s website because Chinese customers are used to have cheaper prices on the Internet than in the physical stores.
Promotions are also an essential phase to attract Chinese e-customers.
The delivery is the essence of the war between online e-business websites in China. The delivery has to be fast, and available all over the country.
Some ecommerce platforms like JD.Com even manage to deliver in less than three hours in the big cities.
Buying online always raises the question of trust. Chinese e-buyers relate on the reviews of the products, on the comments made by the previous customers.
Before buying any products online Chinese are used to research a lot of information on the product. Namely on the social networks, they trust their online communities.
More than 90% of the 618 million internet users in China are using social networks. It is therefore essential for the American brands to be present on the Chinese social networks platforms like Wechat, Weibo and QQ to create their own online communities, interact with the customers, answer their questions and advertise on their products and promotion campaigns. This will help them to give their brand a good image and e-reputation.
Chinese social networks are a goldmine where small American brands can highly benefit from Key Opinion Leaders. These KOLs have a community of fans that they can easily influence by posting positive comments on a brand or a product. Therefore having several KOLs talking about your brand to their community can greatly improve both your brand image and your brand awareness.
A faster way to gain the trust and visibility of the Chinese e-buyers is to open the brand’s own shop on the leading Chinese ecommerce platforms such as Tmall or JD.com. These platforms are already really popular because they are very active in marketing, and are adapted to the Chinese expectations. They allow the Chinese e-shoppers to easily compare the prices and products.
It is recommended to start an online shop on these kinds of platforms before the brand sets completely up on the Chinese ecommerce market. It is indeed a good way to see how the brand is welcomed and which products works better. This is a good way to test the market and avoid a lot of costs at first.
Small American brands have all it takes to succeed in the Chinese ecommerce. However they have to start their approach of the Chinese ecommerce by following the above suggestions. Indeed Chinese e-shoppers do not have the same consuming habits as Westerners. A foreign brand has to follow the Chinese customer’s behavior very carefully to succeed. Internet in China has a real influence on the online customers, using social networks and PR campaigns is always a very effective way to attract new customers.