Ecommerce Opportunities in China for Foreign Maternity and Infant Care brands can be determined by the fact that according to National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) statistics, there were 17.86 million births in 2016, on average 7.6% increase in childbirth from 2015 in China. This increase in child birth followed by relaxation of China’s strict one-child policy that came to an end on 1st of January 2016. Officials at NHFPC predicted to have 17 to 20 million childbirths every year by 2020.

Currently, China’s existing online community represents young demographics, having better spending power than ever before. This generation, born in late 80s and early 90s has witnessed China’s digital and economic prosperity, they have more disposable income as compare to previous generations. When in a Family way this group is willing to pay heaps on products beneficial for their babies and mothers to be. Consequently, the market is categorized by a higher price-per order than their predecessors. Moreover, they are also quality conscious buyers who would choose to pay more for a better quality product.

Chinese Millennials are choosing to have more than one child

Chinese Millennials are choosing to have more than one child

Progressively, couples living in cities, earning significant income and were born as single child are choosing to have a sibling for their child so that their single child doesn’t have to bear the responsibilities of their elders. The increasing size of this new population is now making China the world’s second largest consumer market for babies and children goods after United States, reported by China e-commerce Research Centre.

Presently, infant care products are extremely popular in China’s e-commerce landscape. The growing trend among Chinese parents of providing their children with best possible quality has fuelled growth of cross-border e-commerce in the Chinese digital marketplace. Due to presence of counterfeit products in local market, Chinese parents trust foreign products more than local products.

High Demand in China: Foreign Maternity and Infant Care Brands

Policy changes and relaxed government restrictions on imported goods bought online in China has encouraged cross-border e-commerce transactions. According to Chinese Research firm CBN Data and Alibaba, demand for foreign children’s commodities among Chinese consumers has played a vital role in driving TMALL Global growth. During 2016, about 30% increase in cross-border e-commerce imports was noticed in China and similar pace is expected for 2017.

Previous cases of contaminated baby formula milk, fake dippers and product safety concerns has sparked demand among Chinese parents for imported baby products. The trend has encouraged hefty investments for relevant e-commerce retailers in China. During the first nine months of 2015, the infant and mother care industry reported over 60 companies investing and making total of 1.3 billion USD. A market leader in infant care and online retailer Mia, who deals in cross-border e-commerce sector, received a 150 million USD series D funding in 2016. Seeing the immense growth in infant care industry, Jumei the Chinese cosmetic retailer, also moved into infant care category by investing 300 million USD in BabyTree, an online community for early care and education for children.

Opportunity for International Maternity and Infant Care products in China

Even after significant capital investments, the infant product retailors still have a substantial room for investments if compared to China’s e-commerce giants. Alibaba’s e-commerce market place TMALL and JD secured top 2 spots, accounting for 46.9%, 22.8% for China’s B2C maternity product market in Q2 2015, according to reports from Beijing news. The research institute reminded that China’s turnover of maternity products was at 28.52 million RMB in Q2 2015, of which e-commerce only represents 10%.

Ecommerce Opportunities in China: Solutions for Foreign Maternity and Infant Care Brands to Enter Chinese Ecommerce Market

Solutions to avail Ecommerce Opportunities in China

China has the window of opportunity for International Maternity and Infant Care Brands in Chinese cross-border, e-commerce market. Even after relaxed governmental policies and low tax on imported products, it’s still challenging for international brands to unlock this enormous market due to several e-commerce barriers. However, there are effective solutions to ace maternity and infant care e-market of China. Among which two are extremely vital to penetrate and sustain Chinese e-commerce platform; Branding and presence on well-known e-commerce platforms of China.

Branding

Recently, INFAT 7.0 an advanced lipid infant formula milk headed to Chinese market to roll out its products. INFAT 7.0 has done really well in other markets around the globe. Seeing its success, it wanted to penetrate Chinese market digitally. Initially, INFAT 7.0 came across resistance due to language barrier, unique culture and purchasing habit of Chinese market. The first problem it came across was brand awareness, and search engine optimization techniques in order to be noticed on the web. With the help of local Digital Marketing agency, it produced quality content regarding its products, advertised its benefits on their Chinese website that provided edge over its competitors, and communicated with potential customers with the help of Q & A forums in Chinese language and WeChat. This strategy enabled them to avail comprehensive market share and generated 12 qualified leads in 2 months’ time.

Presence of International Brands 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)

Ecommerce Opportunities in China  via TMALL

https://www.tmall.com

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.

To protect the exclusivity of the online marketplace, 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). To sell products through TMALL, foreign brands needs to follow some strict guidelines, list is hereunder:

Requirements for an International brand to operate an online TMALL store

  • To penetrate Chinese e-commerce market, international brand must be an authorized distributor and have corporate identity outside China.
  • The company must be independent, and hold retail and trade rights
  • The company must be the brand owner or authorized agency having the authority to sell products under its name
  • The company must hold relevant inventory certification for the stock

 Cost breakdown for International brands to operate TMALL store

  • Security Deposit – RMB 150,000 (Around US$23000)
  • Technical Fee – RMB30,000 (Around US$4600) or RMB 60,000 (Around US$92,000), per annum
  • Commission – 0.5 percent-5 percent plus 1 percent Alipay charges

Apart from aforementioned formalities the brand needs to have strong digital marketing strategy catered towards Chinese online customers. The foreign brand needs to gain visibility and build E-reputation in order to have success on TMALL platform.

Ecommerce Opportunities in China via JD.com

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.

Requirements for an International company to operate an online JD store

  • To penetrate Chinese e-commerce market, international brand must be an authorized distributor and have corporate identity outside China along with registration capital of over RMB500,000(Around US$76,660.00)
  • The company must be independent, and hold retail and trade rights
  • The company must be the brand owner or authorized agency having the authority to sell products under its name
  • The company must hold relevant inventory certification for the stock

JD allows operating an online store in 3 different ways

  • Franchising Business Partner –International brands can set up store on JD.com and avail the facility of JD warehouse to stock their products. JD provides warehousing, delivery of goods and customer service.
  • Licensing Business Partner – International brands can set up their online store and can ship the order. JD will supervise customer service and process invoice.
  • Self – Operation Partner – International brands can sell on the JD platform, however warehousing and delivery of good must be supervised by the international brands

Cost breakdown for international brands to operate online JD store

  • Security Deposit – RMB10,000(Around US$1,500) – RMB15,000 (Around US$2300), depending on product category
  • Technical Fee – RMB1,000(Around US$150) per annum.
  • Commission – 3-10 percent, plus 0.85 percent if the JD shipping service is used.

Apart from aforementioned formalities the international brands are expected to have Chinese consumer oriented digital marketing strategy to attract targeted customers.

Ecommerce Opportunities in China via Haitao Web Interface

http://www.lamabang.com

In Chinese language, the term Haitao means; buying goods online from overseas. Along with Amazon.cn there are couple of websites that cater Maternity and Infant care market of China.

  • M6go.com is an online retailer that focuses on foreign goods for children and their parents in China.
  •  Website Miyabaobei.hk is and infant care online retailer, that provides international products for babies and mothers in China. It received a $60 million investment from H Capital firm.
  • Website Meitun, sells milk powder, nappies, and toys.
  •  Davdian.com (大V店) an e-commerce platform catering to mothers, has attained at least RMB 10 million for its series C.
  • Lamabang (辣妈帮, literally “Band of Hot Moms” in English) is the largest online community for mothers and has 66 million registered users. It has partnered up with Suning, the largest O2O retailer in China to further develop its e-commerce capabilities. Lamabang completed its series D earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.

Expert local marketing agency can provide further information on how to promote international products using Haitao websites.

Ecommerce Opportunities in China 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. Mostly, Chinese web celebrities are the most prolific sellers. They take advantage of their popularity and drive traffic to their Taobao online store from blogs, online videos and social media. Chinese web celebrities are mostly known for selling cosmetics, baby and clothing products on Taobao. Sellers with low budget and low quality products opt for this platform. However, just like all other online platforms in China, Taobao also needs strong digital marketing skills to be visible to online customers.

Cost Structure for having International Brand online store on Taobao

Alibaba charges a small fee per transaction made via Alipay. Creating an online store is free, and retailers need to show their Chinese ID card.

Logistics: Individual stores manage logistics (including warehousing, customs clearance, customer delivery) and use their own third party or a recommended Taobao nominated third party.

Customer Payments: Online transactions paid by customers are managed through Alipay.

Ecommerce Opportunities in China via WeChat Official Account

WeChat is Swiss knife of digital ecosystem of China. 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. However, upon received a message the user is not notified, in fact the user needs to go into the desired subscription folder to retrieve delivered content. Secondly, subscription accounts have much less integration ability and advance functionality that can be integrated into service account.

WeChat Service Account

WeChat Service Account is considered the most suitable for business and organization 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. Users are able to receive push notification when the message is delivered. WeChat Service Account provides higher degree of functionality to users, with the help of customized menu along with integrated e-commerce facility within the app.

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.

WeChat Official Account Guidelines

The WeChat accounts formed to target Chinese users must be registered inside China or else it will not be visible to Chinese users. Possessing an Official WeChat accounts requires a legal Chinese entity, a Chinese Residence ID and A China mobile phone number. International companies are advised to partner with expert Digital Marketing Agency, which 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.

Chinese economic development has established investment opportunities for International brands by providing in-house state of the art social e-commerce platforms that are engrained in Chinese consumer’s lifestyle. Digital Marketing agencies provide 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 customized advice.