Sell Shoes in China: Market overview of Footwear Industry of China
With rising income and internationalisation in China, consumers demand for quality footwear, this has proved to be very profitable to sell shoes in China. According to the forecast made by Euromonitor, in the next few years China’s footwear market will continue to grow at an average rate of 7%. As quoted by HongKong Trade development council website, in a market survey conducted by Euromonitor evaluates that sales in China’s footwear market in 2016 amounted to Rmb370 billion.
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The main drivers for this enormous growth has been accredited to increased westernization among Chinese consumers, growing health awareness and major developments in the field of e-commerce.
Leather Shoes Market in China
The contribution of workforce of China’s population between the age of 16-59 is 65.6%. Generally, people that visit formal workplace prefer to wear leather shoes. Now there has been growing emphasis on design and styles of the leather shoes. Male and female consumers have totally different ideas when it comes to buying shoes. Men tend to attach more importance to traditional designs with high preference to comfort, whereas women give more attention to fashion. Commonly, women tend to possess more shoes than men.
China’s Sports, Outdoor, and Leisure Shoes Market
As Chinese are becoming more and more health conscious, they tend to participate regularly in sporting events. This trend has boosted sports shoes consumption and this has formed an integral part of people’s spending.
Product-wise, multi-functional outdoor shoes are very popular among all age-groups in China, however there is a big market for performance-oriented hiking and walking shoes also.
“Trendiness” and “comfort” are the two key selling points of leisure shoes. Consumers of leisure shoes are primarily aged between 18 and 45, ranging from students to office workers. Leisure shoes also have a brand value and individuality attached to it. This characteristic makes customers remain loyal to the brand.
Children Footwear market in China
This era is considered as Baby booming period of China with 16 million births taking place on the mainland every year. This has given a huge opportunity to all infant care brands in e-commerce market of China with new wave of demand for novelty children’s shoes. Together with this, shoes made from green raw material and less energy resources have also made their place in the market.
Competition from Local Shoe Market in China
While international brands have already penetrated the Chinese market, many domestic footwear companies are also starting to build their brands. A number of well-known local footwear brands have thus appeared, including Li Ning, Belle, Aokang, Anta and XTep. However, international brands are still growing mainly due to the rising income levels of Chinese consumers and better quality perception attached to the international products. Recently, Adidas reported strong first quarter results in Greater China with sales increasing up to 30% on a currency-neutral basis.
Selling footwear in China via E-commerce platforms
With busy schedules some mainland consumers, find it difficult to visit physical stores frequently and keep up with ever-changing product styles. Therefore, they prefer to search for shoes online. This gives them liberty to find what they want quickly and easily without visiting shopping malls and shoe stores. Comments from other customers on online platforms, also help them to decide on buying shoes according to their needs. Secondly, some e-commerce platforms also offer free home delivery of goods ordered as well as free return and exchange policy. This is considered very convenient among Chinese consumers.
What do International Footwear Brands “must have” to Enter Chinese E-commerce Platforms?
With enormous opportunities available in Chinese footwear market, China’s E-commerce market is not the easiest one to enter due to language barrier, cultural differences and strict policies of e-commerce platforms but there are solutions offered by the local key player in the market who are pro at facilitating international brands to enter and be successful on Chinese E-commerce platforms.
Two Major Solutions to Step in China’s E-commerce Market
There are two vital approaches to enter and be successful on Chinese E-commerce platforms. Branding and presence on well-known e-commerce platforms of China.
Branding is Life-line in China
Chinese consumers hold the biggest share when it comes to global luxury spending and buy more products than any other country. It is integral to understand the culture of China’s closed ecosystem, where if a marketing campaign go wrong it has a big impact on the brand image. Therefore, first step after market analysis is Branding and creating awareness about your Brand!
“You need to ensure that your local campaign is consistent with the brand image but also relevant to local consumers,” said Louis Houdart, founder and global director of branding and design agency Creative Capital.
Therefore, it is best to ask for help from local digital agency that live the Chinese culture on regular basis and understand your brand needs and Chinese culture. They are skilled to find a “sweet spot” between the International brand value and preference of Chinese consumers.
Presence on Chinese E-commerce Platforms
To enter e-commerce market of China International brands must learn policies of digital platforms. This includes TMALL, JD.com, Haitao, Taobao and WeChat (social e-commerce)
Entering Chinese E-commerce market via TMALL or TMALL Global
TMALL holds the biggest market share in e-commerce market of China at 57%. It mainly focuses on premium brands. This characteristic makes TMALL most expensive e-commerce marketplace in China. For Chinese consumers, high price indicates high quality therefore many customers prefer buying their products from TMALL.com TMALL is owned by Alibaba Group. It provides an opportunity to International brands to open exclusive online stores and directly sell products to Chinese consumers without being physically present in China.
TMALL has invitation-only policy where only qualified international brands can either be invited to join or can apply through a certified third party agency (TP). For more information on how to sell International products through TMALL, please contact local digital marketing agency.
Apart from aforementioned formalities the brand needs to have strong digital marketing strategy catered towards Chinese online customers. The International brands need to gain visibility and build E-reputation in order to have successful presence on TMALL platform.
Entering Chinese E-commerce via JD.com
JD is China’s largest online direct sales company. It relatively has less market share than TMALL.com. It operates seven fulfillment centers and 166 warehouses in 44 cities. JD.com has 4,142 delivery stations across several districts of China. International companies can open individual online stores on JD.com and brands are permitted to import food, beverages, apparel and shoes from overseas. JD’s cross-border service, JD Worldwide, enables suppliers to sell directly to Chinese consumers without a local presence.
JD.com is less expensive than TMALL.com. It provides active global promotion of JD Worldwide (mainly in the U.S. and Australia) and supports in-house logistics service. JD.com has a zero tolerance policy for counterfeit products.
Apart from aforementioned formalities the international brands are expected to have Chinese consumers catered digital marketing strategy to attract targeted customers.
Entering Chinese E-commerce via Haitao Web Interface?
There are several cross- border websites that cater international brands. Chinese consumers prefer buying imported food products from Haitaos. To learn about which Haitao is suitable for you brand please contact local marketing agency catering International brands.
Entering Chinese E-commerce via Taobao
Taobao is owned by Alibaba Group. It offers largest C2C e-commerce marketplace in China. Taobao allows registered or non-registered businesses to sell directly to consumers. It has more than a million sellers, along with countless product categories. Establishing a store on Taobao is virtually free but the online marketplace is ruled by small sole sellers who compete fiercely on price and honesty and authenticity is an unwritten rule of their trade ethics. Sellers with low budget and low quality products opt for this platform. Taobao also needs strong digital marketing skills to be visible to online customers.
Entering Chinese E-commerce via WeChat Official Account
WeChat is engrained in lifestyles of Chinese consumers. It is all-in-one-app which integrates social e-commerce seamlessly. There are three types of service accounts available for promoting business on WeChat; WeChat Subscription Account, WeChat Service Account and WeChat Enterprise Account. Businesses present on WeChat via aforementioned accounts can broadcast information to their followers. The information post can be shared, reposted or generate comments by the followers.
WeChat Subscription Account:
Subscription account is the most basic version of all official WeChat accounts. It can be used to push information to the followers. The messages sent to followers are grouped in one folder containing all other subscription account that the user is following. It is generally used for the daily news and information broadcast.
WeChat Service Account:
WeChat Service Account is considered the most suitable for business and organisation that aspire to access advanced WeChat Official Account. Service accounts allows more APIs (Minisite) than Subscription Account and companies are enable to build its own application, get inquires and broadcast promotional content to its followers. With the help of Service Account, one message per week and 4 messages per month can be sent to the followers.
WeChat Enterprise Account:
Enterprise Accounts are also called Corporate Accounts, these are mainly used for internal company use, for example; sharing memos, private group chat or a simple project and task management system. These accounts are being increasingly used within Chinese organizations. These accounts are secure and followers have to go through an authentication process unlike other WeChat account where gaining followers is the primary goal.
International companies are advised to partner with expert Digital Marketing Agency, that is willing to apply for an Official WeChat Account on behalf of the international company. Together with opening an official WeChat Account, it requires sound and expert knowledge of the market and digital strategy to target right customer group and successfully penetrate WeChat landscape.
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Would you like to learn more about China’s shoe market, and what is the ideal strategy to step into gigantic Chinese E-commerce platform? You can reach us for a friendly discussion and learn about your brand’s prospects in Chinese E-commerce market. Our Digital Marketing agency provides, International Brands with tools that are optimal to unlock this enormous market to earn their full potential and multiple sales with millions of users. If you are interested in exploring Chinese Digital E-Commerce platforms, reach out to us for a customised advice.