In recent years, China has become the largest eCommerce market in the world. If you’re not selling your products through Chinese e-commerce channels, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. There are several reasons why selling online in China is a good idea, and we’ll outline some of them in this post. Keep reading to learn more!
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 online payment platforms Alipay and WeChat)
- Comparable and lower prices online
- The burgeoning growth of e-commerce and m-commerce
5 Reasons to sell your products on online shopping platforms 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, 280 million rich consumers in China had disposable incomes ranging between 18,000 euros to 900,000 euros.
To conclude, no matter what you sell, it is important to take into account the Chinese market.
2. The Domestic Market for E-commerce explodes in China
China is the leader in terms of e-commerce. By 2020, there are 842 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 share.
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.
And because of that boom in online shopping, the competition between eCommerce sites is high. This competition is to your benefit as platforms make everything possible to be more attractive to both consumers and brands. This means innovation such as new type of advertising, and social e-commerce features. But more importantly, it means its become easier to enter China’s biggest eCommerce app
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”.
- 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 online 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 ecommerce platforms must be part of your strategy.
- Tmall (online shopping platform), represents 45.1% of online B2C sales and is the leader of the Chinese B2C e-commerce market.
- Use WeChat as a platform for the 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 services are 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.
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 in 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 do you 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 platforms and marketplace platforms.
Chinese social media platforms boosting your branding
WeChat and Weibo are two of the most popular social platforms in China, in fact, with Douyin, the 3 apps lead the social media market space. They are playing a very important role in Chinese modern lives
WeChat is more than a messaging app, with over 1.2bn users as of 2022. The characteristic of WeChat marketing is community marketing and advertorial play 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 downloading 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.
WeChat is like What’s app, it is a closed 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.
Companies on Weibo can communicate with their fans, announce their new products, and any other interactions in order to boost their brand awareness. Chinese companies as well as global firms such as L’Oréal, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, or Coca-Cola have an official account. It is without a doubt a powerful marketing platform.
Weibo is also an efficient platform for ads with many formats available and a varied user base.
Chinese Content Platform
There are a few key reasons why forums and Q&A can be useful for digital marketing in China.
- They provide a place for customers and potential customers to ask questions and get honest feedback from other users. This can be incredibly valuable for companies, as it helps to create an open dialogue with customers and understand their needs and concerns.
- Forums and Q&A can also help to build trust and credibility with potential consumers, as they can see that the company is willing to engage openly and honestly with them.
Forums and Q&A can also be a great way to generate new leads and customers, as people who are actively searching for answers may come across your company’s content or product recommendations.
Live-streaming platforms increase your brand exposure
In recent years, live streams have become 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, or 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.
The combination of live streams and e-commerce has clearly manifested in the past two years, and traditional shopping platform have also opened live-streaming channels. The most famous now are 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.
KOL marketing in China, what is it? and why do foreign companies need it?
KOLs marketing is a type of influencer marketing where businesses work with key opinion leaders (KOLs) to promote their products or services. These KOLs are influential individuals on social media who have a large following and can help to increase brand awareness and drive sales.
There are different types of KOLS:
- Stars of brand ambassadors: movie/music stars and so on.
- KOLs: Your typical influencers. They are market influencers and the biggest name such as Li Jiaqi are trendsetters
- Micro-Influencers: small influencers with less than 10k followers. Great for small brands with low budgets and to test out new audiences. This KOL usually has more time to engage with followers and is endorsing fewer sponsors making them look more reliable.
- KOC (key opinion consumers): affluent consumers or affluent communities of super consumers.
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, and Burberry.
The 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. international brands will need:
- locally-hosted sites: foreign-hosted sites tends not to fare well in terms of loading speed, which impacts their bouncing rate and overall ranking on Baidu.
- Mobile-friendly sites
- Social media Contact info
- live chat if possible
- Link to major ecommerce sites where you are operating
They may not make an order directly through your website, because they prefer to use Tmall, JD, and other Chinese ecommerce sites, but it is very important to have a well-designed Chinese version website in order to show them that you are professional and serious. Only if you make them feel like that, you shall get their confidence, and confidence is the key to winning the Chinese online market.
You are a new Market Entrant looking at selling online in China?
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, that 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 in their development in China
- Deep knowledge of the Chinese lifestyle
- A passionate international team
- Official Company registration package on Social media & eCommerce apps