What are the Reasons You Should Sell Online in China – Update 2020

You will find below the 5 reasons why you should sell online in China and the best way to do it:

  • Chinese consumers love to shop online
  • Mobile-first in payments (facilitated by Alipay and WeChat)
  • Comparable and lower prices online
  • Burgeoning growth of e-commerce and m-commerce

You will find below five reasons why you should be on Chinese e-commerce and you will find some rules to drive it.

5 Reasons to sell your products online in China

1. China’s market is huge and the potential is even greater

China has become the largest market in the world. In 2019, China’s online retail sales reached 10,632.4 billion yuan (US$1,552 bn), an increase of 16.5% over the previous year.

In 2018, around 83% of all payments were made via mobile payment modes. By 2020, a study predicts 280 million rich consumers in China with disposable income of 18,000 euros to 900,000 euros. Thus, revenues will have tripled, if not more.

To conclude, no matter what you sell, it is important to take into account the Chinese market.

2. E-commerce explodes in China

China is the leader in terms of e-commerce. According to Statista, by Merch 2020, there are 710.27 million online shoppers in China and for more than 10 years, this number increases constantly.  E-Commerce is in its heyday in China, representing approximately 35% of the overall retail market. China’s E-Commerce share is expected to reach half of the global market by 2020. In 2016, China’s e-commerce transactions accounted for US$2.1 trillion alongside a 25 percent year-on-year growth.

3. China’s appetite for Western products

Just as Chinese consumers like to buy online, they love to buy Western products. Western brands are generally perceived as better and safer.

According to one study, 61% of Chinese would pay more for products manufactured in the United States. In some categories, the preference is even higher.

The World Luxury Association revealed that 86% of Chinese consumers refused to buy luxury goods labeled “Made in China”.

imported products
  • 61% of Chinese have less confidence in local food than in 2011
  • 28% expect to replace domestic purchases with imports.

4. Reduce the risk of counterfeit products

Chinese buyers are the most suspicious of consumers because China is known for counterfeit products. (Imitation of big brands for the bags, watches, clothes …)
To gain the market and consumers, the most popular e-commerce platform, Tmall (B to C), only sells products directly from a brand owner or an authorized distributor, meaning that consumers can buy with confidence.

5. Reaching a Chinese population in rural areas

75% of the middle class in China live in “small towns” you have probably never heard of, and most of these cities do not have nearby stores that provide foreign brands.

Thus, they buy the products online. There are nearly 200 cities with more than one million people in China, and online access is the simplest and most effective way to reach them. No one will argue that China is an easy market. That’s why you need to build a solid e-commerce strategy in China to reach Chinese consumers.

Tips for e-commerce success in China

Here are some general rules if you want to sell online in China:

  • The presence on e-commerce platforms must be part of your strategy.
  • Tmall (e-commerce platform), represents 45.1% of online B2C sales
  • Use WeChat as a platform of newsletter
  • Social media such as Weibo is intimately linked to online shopping and should also be a key pillar of your plan. 

85% of consumers use social media frequently to share their online shopping experiences and 55% have participated in a discussion about a foreign brand.

  • The service is important for Chinese customers who appeal before shopping online.

It is best that you have someone to answer queries immediately when your Chinese customers are shopping online – 7 to 8 am until midnight is a good guideline.

  • Fast delivery is very essential in China.
  • Payments are not like in most western markets where credit cards are widespread.

The Chinese use Alipay and WeChat pay which are trusted online payments. Your website is not only imperative for online sales, but also for offline sales.

37.6% of Chinese consumers regularly increase their knowledge of the brand through websites. The Chinese market is changing a lot but one thing that is certain: selling online is a strategy to adopt.

The Chinese market is changing at a very fast pace, but the adoption of China’s e-commerce is very important for entering the market.


Brand awareness is essential when selling online in China

Before you enter the Chinese market, you need to be aware of the differences between the Chinese market and the other ones. The market is different because the customer’s habits and consumption concepts are not the same as Western countries. Chinese people care about quality. With the rising affluence, they are ready to pay for high-end products, even if they are expensive.

However, they don’t purchase brands or products that they don’t know. Moreover, before making their decision, they usually search for a lot of information about certain brands in order to ensure themselves that it is a good product.

Therefore, your brand awareness is essential for you to gain this market.

How to get your brand well-known by your targeted customers?

It concerns completely another digital marketing strategy when you are going to sell online in China, because Chinese netizens don’t use Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other social platforms you are already familiar with. They use WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu etc. So if you want to sell online in China, you have to get the awareness of all those social media and e-commerce platforms.

Chinese social platforms boosting your branding

WeChat and Weibo are two of the most popular social platforms in China. They are playing a very important role in Chinese modern lives.

WeChat is more than a messaging app, with 1,17billion users in 2020. The characteristic of WeChat marketing is community marketing and advertorial plays a decisive role in the WeChat marketing process. It has very comprehensive functionalities from basic messaging services to an e-commerce platform with its own mobile payment system. WeChat provides mini-programs for its users. Without download apps, registers can use numerous apps on WeChat platforms. Even Weibo has its mini-program on WeChat. What’s more, this mini-program feature can also be used in online shopping malls.

Read: Wechat Marketing Guide

WeChat is like What’s Up, it is a dark social network, which means you can see one’s content only if you are invited. As a result, users on WeChat are more loyal, and users in the same community share common interests. Therefore, advertising on WeChat can help you to focus on your targeted customers efficiently.

Weibo is an open social platform, with more than 550 million users. The characteristic of Weibo is mass broadcasting. Since everyone on Weibo is free to see others, this social network is also a center for KOLs’ activities. Now, with the cooperation with WeChat, Weibo’s mass traffic is guided into WeChat and divided into different groups by different interests.

Companies on Weibo can communicate with their fans, announce their new products, and any other interactions in order to boost their brand awareness. Big firms such as L’Oréal, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, or Coca-Cola have an official account.

Live-streaming platforms increase your brand exposure

In recent years, live streams are becoming very popular in China, especially during and after the Covid-19. Chinese people don’t need to go to physical shops, only with their fingers, they can go window-shopping. Online live streams boost online shopping. No matter who you are, where you are, you can use this new model to sell your products online. This brand-new way of e-commerce has even reached peasants living in the rural mountain areas.

JD live stream

The combination of live streams and e-commerce has clearly manifested in the past two years, and traditional e-commerce platforms have also opened live-streaming channels. The most famous now is TikTok and Kuaishou, but some giant e-commerce platforms like Taobao, JD have also their own live streams.

One thing you need to know is the live streams are always linked with KOLs, together with KOLs, these platforms serve as a powerful tool for your successful marketing campaign.

SEO promotes your brand visibility when selling online

If we talk about SEM, we must refer to Baidu. Baidu is the largest search engine in China. You should know that the Chinese don’t use Google, Bing, or other Western searching engines that you know. So if you want to optimize your website, Baidu is the first choice. This giant SE has 3 different advertising services:

  • Paid results
  • Banners ads
  • Brand zone

856,000 companies are using Baidu marketing now, including those big firms like Cartier, Channel, Burberry.

Baidu first page when we tape in luxury products

Creation of your website helps you to get Chinese online shoppers confidence

Like what has been explained before, Chinese customers love to surfing on the Internet to find out enough information before purchasing. So your website will be a very efficient channel to educate viewers about your brand image, the company concept, products exhibition, etc.

They may not make an order directly through your website, because they prefer to use Tmall, JD, and other e-commerce platforms, but it is very important to have a well-designed and Chinese version website in order to show them that you are professional and serious. Only you make them feel like that, you shall get their confidence, and confidence is the key to winning the Chinese online market.

If you want to know more about Chinese e-commerce and how to do your digital marketing in China, Contact GMA, a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market, we will be very happy to help you.

  • A team of 70 digital marketing specialists in China
  • Experienced & Professional in supporting companies for their development in China
  • With a deep knowledge of the Chinese lifestyle
  • A passionate international team

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1 thought on “What are the Reasons You Should Sell Online in China – Update 2020”

  1. Great article very interesting. It is true that the Chinese market has great potential. Chinese consumers spend more than in other countries. But what is important to know is that they are very connected. Foreign sellers must promote and sell online.

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