Have you ever tried to build a new overseas brand and fail in your attempt? In any approach to China, foreign brands often make some common mistakes when trying to sell their products in China mainland. Although such misconceptions are not exclusive to online environment, we will focus on those that particularly affect your approach to e-commerce in China. China is already the world’s first e-commerce market.
Are you going to miss its enormous potential?
First bug: China is mobile, and you better record it
It is not the first time we tell you this, and for sure it won´t be the last. As we mention before in our article “How to Take Advantage of the Latest Ecommerce Revolution?”, Ecommerce has been a great revolution for both companies and customers.
Nowadays, Chinese prefer to use their mobile devices rather than their laptops and according to the new trend, companies have already starting to adapt themselves to portable devices. Moreover, those companies using U-commerce are focused on improving the customer experience through customizing and navigation created in cooperation with the User.
Second bug: E-commerce may be an asset in your country, but in China is irreplaceable
We cannot fail to mention Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now, when he says,
“In China, Ecommerce is the cake.”
This may mean that you will need to adapt your business to the new environment. Do not expect it to be China who suits you, this does not work this way.
Remember that whoever hits first, hits twice. Embrace e-commerce as the enabler of your business it is, and take advantage of the immense benefits that electronic commerce can bring to your company to start selling around the World!
Third bug: Social Media is there to stay. Register your account and start moving!
Not only around the 93% of the online searches in China are done in their own search engines –Have you ever heard Google does not work in China?– but also about a 68% of the customers take a look on the official Social Media account before buying.
Do not miss the opportunity to have a voice in that huge chicken coop is the network, start developing a tailored communication strategy for your brand and gain your piece of the cake!
Fourth bug: Domestic and lazy thinkers, or how the triumph from a day doesn’t make it daily
Do you think you will keep doing in China pretty much the same things you were doing before and as a result you will achieve success?
A basic rule you should never forget again is, no matter the experience and the many different markets in which you have entered before, is that new horizons always implies a new starting on your understanding of the target, so we definitely encourage you to start a market analysis.
Will your brand be competitive in China?
Do you offer something different regarding your competitors?
Is there a suitable market niche in the country ?
These and a thousand more questions require a prior discussion, keeping in mind that China should not be underestimated: the country enjoys some peculiarities you definitely must know before starting your landing.
We strongly recommend you seek assistance from professionals focused on the Chinese market, in order to enhance your chances of success in the country.
Fifth buf: Do not try to do everything by yourself, ask for advice
We are not tired of saying it, and will do so again: China is not a flat road. Do not try to embark on this mission unaccompanied, but pick very well with whom.
Look for complementary partners interested in joining forces, go to Government agencies dedicated to external actions and internationalization and definitely search for specialized agencies in the country to start outsourcing some tasks.
Already in search of a consulting expert in digital marketing and e-commerce? You have come to the right place.
What are the risks that could arise from the economic slowdown in China? How does China affect to other countries? Since starting its market reforms almost thirty years ago, China´s currently economy cannot be ignored.
Even if China has not left behind its centrally-planned economy yet, it has introduced some big measures to turn into a market-based country. Such efforts have resulted in a huge GDP growth and has lead the country to reach all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Currently China has become the second largest economy in the world, but deals the first in the ranking by the quantity of goods and services produced. Moreover, according to the expectations published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the present year, China will be responsible of the 18% of the entire World economic activity.
If to all this we add the expectations of its huge and richer population, its rapid change on production models and its consequent role on the World stage, we can conclude that the importance of China in the world has become a matter of vital importance in today’s global interregional balance.
But its big hits cannot make us forget that China still remains a developing country, and as we have mentioned before on our article “Ten Challenges on Chinese Future“, not only market reforms are incomplete, but also it has huge challenges ahead which must start to face.
After the financial crisis of 2008, neither the business community nor Governments have fully restored their confidence on the global economy. The doubts about the economic bonanza and the future role of Western countries have underestimated the increasing influence capacity of China in the international arena, while doubts have generated certain fear of a possible blowout of the country.
Trade effects are a game changer
The channels through which China affects the global economy can be summarized on:
- Decrease in trade and exchange rates
The Chinese leadership on trade makes hard not to affect global demand. China’s import volumes keep growing, but less than expected. This becomes a huge problem to those countries dependent on Chinese exports: raw materials are highly susceptible of the slowdown.
This effect creates a bidirectional paradox: China affects the world as much as the world affects China.
Although there has been much speculation about a possible future depreciation of the RMB in order to relaunch Chinese exports, in the team we believe that a currency war is currently off the table.
- Oil lower prices and commodities
The latest drops in oil prices are caused by the lack of confidence on Chinese economy. Its weakness has led to enormous imbalances on exporting countries of crude oil and raw materials: Russia, Brazil, OPEC countries and the U.S. still suffer for it. China’s falling demand has greatly contributed to the new situation and with it, deflation has knocked on the door.
However, according to the latest analysis made by the IMF, the negative effects are supplemented by growth in the purchasing power of the population. The Organization still thinks that lower prices on commodities have a positive effect on general economy.
- Monetary and inflation policies
The recent affordability of RMB should not make us forget that Chinese weakness can lead to a global new paradigm surrounded by deflation and debt. Once again, lower prices stimulate consumption, and this leads to boost demand, bigger sales and prosperity. Lower prices have become the stimulus of global economy.
- Cultural hegemony
Even if the Western countries have underestimated China’s rise, the consequences can already be seen. Although Cultural power follows to Economy and Politics, China already shows its increasing political and cultural power on international arena: mandarin language and Chinese diplomacy have become a key to Government policy.
Its empowerment is more visible in East Asia, but runs fast around the rest of the world. We have started living in a China-centrism, in which global power gravitates around Chinese policy.
Nowadays, confidence in the global economy is vital for prosperity but unpredictable. The ripple effect that is lived in the global area, is greater than ever.
Understand this huge spider web which is China, seize opportunities to launch your business and boost your sales, are our goals.
In search of a Digital Marketing Consultancy? Interested on Chinese Ecommerce?
Visit us on 2 Open. We would love to hear from you!
Any approach to Chinese landscape ends falling into the same debate: Will China evolve or break over the next years?
Although experts do not agree (And neither do we!), in the team we believe it is important to name some of the most immediate challenges ahead for China.
Current challenges are also the challenges of the future
When we talk about China, no one agrees. The huge boost experienced by China in the last thirty years has not buried the doomsayers who year after year have sown doubts about the future of China. Faced with them there are some enthusiasts who proclaim that the next world leadership belongs to China. Who has the reason? Not everything is white, not everything is black. Both sides are right.
Reforms, Where to start? Ten points to keep in mind
China is characterized by the dynamism that has developed in recent years. In order to ensure the future growth of the country, Chinese authorities must address some issues of particular importance:
First, Local Government Debt:
Local and regional government debt have been a terrible headache for analysts. We would like to underline the explanation Nicholas Zhu, senior analyst at Moody’s, gave,
“For the local government direct debt, we believe the government is finding a handle by capping it at 16 trillion yuan ($2.45 trillion) overall and improving the structure by swapping some existing debt into bonds at lower cost and longer maturity.”
However, in recent times the central bank started to allow qualified individual investors to buy and sell the bonds through commercial banks.
Second, Reform State Companies:
The Government is attempting to reform the state-owned sector while continuing to maintain its currently control. To do this, some different attempts have been made, such as: mixed formulas, restructuring, mergers, open up protected service sectors to private and foreigners, them all focused on enhancing their competitiveness and autonomy on private-sector markets.
Third, Liberalize the Financial Sector:
Financial liberalization is a key in Chinese reform, and it is closely linked to the privatization phenomenon itself. Both reforms will be needed to maintain Chinese growth, and facilitate the creation of jobs and the reliably channels credit to companies. The success of economic reforms carried out, will be a determining point of stabilization or social destabilization, and are a sensitive issue in governmental action. As the country opens its doors further, as the former Australian ambassador to China, Geoff Raby said,
“Equally China will be more open to capital inflows.”
Investment in China is drived by Foreign Direct Investment, as a key which gives advantages to the supplier and also to the host. Moreover, is a thermometer of the future of the business, and China has already started to capitalize its benefits. At the same time, FDI depends on some key – factors:
- Capital Availability: China is already the world’s largest recipient of foreign capital.
- Competitiveness: Rests on the country’s capacity to develop its infrastructure, resource availability, productivity and workforce skills.
- Regulatory environment: A difficult legal doctrine and excessive regulation, have been a serious handicap for investment in China. Things are changing, but it is still far to be as it should be.
- Openness to trade –especially international one.
To achieve the Chinese structural goals, it is a necessary condition that the country’s growth rate is maintained over 5 years above 6.5%. Moreover, in China Dollar strength prevents avoid closing 2016 with deflation, and has contributed to high capital outflows in recent years.
Sixth, Chinese Demand for Hard Commodities:
A very important point to consider for countries that produce raw materials as iron, copper or aluminum. Its prices will drop sharply as long as its demand will go slower. This expectation is opposed to food, which will keep increasing due to the growth of Chinese middle class.
China´s export competitiveness are based on three main principles: low unit – labour costs and interested rated, and an undervalued yuan. Due to the paradigm shift, it is expected that China’s strength at this point has begun to crack; an opportunity for others countries after all!
Over the past five years, China has promoted with great vehemence its innovative sector. The technical, economic and human development are impressive, especially its efforts in Science & Technological graduates. According to Mckingsey Global Institute,
“China must generate two to three percentage points of annual GDP growth through innovation, broadly defined. If it does, innovation could contribute much of the $3 trillion to $5 trillion a year to GDP by 2025.”
China lives in a permanent Environmental crises: air and water pollution, deforestation and desertification, biodiversity, high rates of cancer and the growth of a middle-class who is adopting a Western –style consumer patterns have become a huge problem for future. China needs to change the course of its current model. Therefore, he has embraced renewable energy.
We cannot talk about Environment without mention Consumption. The sharp increase of in domestic consumer patterns and the Chinese middle-class prosperity, will need of a sustainable and growing consumer economy based on the need of big service sector reforms.
Companies must be ready. How to be competitive in China?
The rapid evolution of the world stage precludes long-term estimates. Having an updated database and the example of a specialized agency, is always a clear advantage in any approach to the market, but even more in China. It has never been enough for global business to know what is coming, but also knowing how to take advantage of every opportunity that arises in the market.
In search of a specialist Agency in the Chinese environment? Are you interested on Digital Marketing and Ecommerce?
Some months ago, we identified some Insights on ZARA in the Chinese digital market that came to underline its first steps on Chinese Ecommerce and the main reasons which led the company to choose Tmall as its official flagship store.
Zara´s stay in China began ten years ago and would not be long before the Management decided to set up its own online shopping website The Zara China and publish an M-shop called Zara.
What has been the result of the policy undertaken in recent years?
The unstoppable rise of Zara
After its landing in Shanghai, Zara currently counts with 182 stores in China. The brand is undergoing a process of rapid expansion, but gradual: after settling in major cities, continues to expand its business model in medium-sized cities –Second and Third Tier cities-.
The expansion of Zara in China occurs while increasing its international presence; the company is already present in 90 countries with a network of 2.170 stores…and there are still much more worlds to conquer.
In a curious twist of fate, while Zara undertakes an ambitious international growth -focused on Asia-, some others Chinese counterparts are the ones which starts their landing in Europe. It is especially noteworthy the case of Chinese Mulaya. Born in a spirit reminiscent of Zara, it advances rapidly in the West as a flagship Chinese in women’s clothing.
Ten years to become one of the 10 most recognized brands by Generations Y & Z
It would be this August when the Chinese RTG Consulting launched its latest study 2016 RTG Brand Relevance Report. The Report comes to underline the relevance that some brands reach between so-called Generation Y and Generation Z in China, their consumer behavior and lifestyles.
Surrounded by Chinese –Xiaomi, AliPay, Wechat, Taobao- and some others well-known international brands –Apple, Adidas, Nike, Uniqlo, H&M, Converse, New Balance-, Zara has entered into the Top 10, after becoming the sixth Most Recognized brand in China for the generation under 36 years.
But results are better for the Spanish company when we dive into Clothing brands. If we look at the survey results, we find that young Chinese place Zara as the second most-recognized brand in their industry, just behind Adidas.
China is already the second most important market thanks to ECOMMERCE
Its huge success in China is due to the combination of three main factors we describe below more in detailed:
- Zara offers a constant renewal and an affordable luxury as concept.
- Zara decided to start playing at the Chinese ecommerce scene by the hand of Tmall.com, instead of trying to build its own infrastructure to cover the entire Chinese market.
- Its Electronic commerce policy not only supports the growth of its own Digital industry, but also the Company growth as a whole: it has become a safe way to promote the brand in places where physical presence does not yet exist.
After going through critical situations in its implementation process in China, the company has adapted to the specific conditions of the market to which it is addressed. Zara not only has understood that nowadays, any approach to the Chinese territory must have a policy consistent with the preferences of the target population and be brave and fast to react to local consumer tastes, but also that Ecommerce has become the board in which the battle occurs, an step into future and the key that makes the difference.
All we can we do for you
Inevitably, the present is already future and both are settle on the virtual world. Knowing the ins and outs of the digital industry, take advantage of Ecommerce for the growth of our business and not give up a proactive marketing policy are the keys for successful development in the country.
In the company, we have the experience of an expert team. We are used to deal with the constraints of the Chinese market and we seize opportunities.
Let us team together. Visit us in 2 Open.
How does Chinese Market work? How can companies promote themselves without Facebook and Google? How do people survive under huge competition there?
China is -still- a mystery for foreigners. The country means a huge cake, but before entering the market you will need to answer to this and other questions. To make it easier to you, in 2 Open we have taken a brief look of the Chinese market and done a list of the most basic tips you should consider before landing in China.
Gone wrong? It can go much worse
When many companies started their business in China for the first time, the things they used quite a lot in local made no sense in China.
Ebay is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms around the world and a perfect example to explain the experiences many foreign companies face in China. Due to its leadership, the company assumed that its landing in China would be no much different to that experienced in other countries, so in the beginning they refused to establish a partnership with JD.com. The company soon realized there were no more choice but to cooperate with them.
What are the most common problems that foreign companies face in Chinese territory?
Foreign enterprises in China often fall into the same shortcomings we analyze below. Let´s see:
First, Always try to show their high-end enterprise images
Foreign enterprises always show their best face: high-quality services, responsible attitude, respect to the customers… and so on. But in China, price is the key and can always be the KPI which attract the customers’ sight immediately.
Second, Focus on high-end target audiences but ignore the rapid growth of China
When companies like Blueberry entered China, they set the target group to those corporate users. As the earliest and past No.1 smart phone, Blueberry had already been famous in China. But within 7 years (2006-2013), they retreated from China and closed their Chinese official website.
When Huawei set off their business, what they did was to set the target audiences as all people who want smart phone. Since the average income of Chinese people is increasing, so that more and more can afford a smart-phone. Huawei was right about its strategy.
Third, Copy the promotion strategy directly to China
Many foreign companies would prefer to make a wonderful advertisement, an amazing poster and advertise in the subway stations, supermarkets… and everywhere. But they always find out that the ROI is quite low, since they might only get 1 customer for a 100 RMB budget. Does it outweigh? We don´t think so.
In China, since the civil quality is still on a shallow level, what the customers care most is whether they are interested in, but not what is a good design. That is why when Taobao.com stepped out their first step, they even promoted on some illegal websites which had huge traffics every day.
Fourth, Think too much about customers but ignore what the customers are thinking about ICQ. The instant messaging software also failed in China!
The U.S. companies are always stricts on protecting the users’ privacy. With such a policy, users can’t find the chat record if they log in on another PC, since the software will not memorize or save these records in order to protect the privacy to the most degree.
Its counterpart in China, Ma Huateng, found out this fault which doesn’t fit the Chinese users’ requirement. In response he created QQ, which is based on the technology of ICQ and make this software become the most-used IMS in China.
Fifth, Rely too much on the Western promotion ways, companies do not want to do things directly
E-mail, Mail and SMS promotion require low budget and have huge audience quantity. Well, they do not make sense in China. For many Chinese people, it is absolutely offensive if they receive advertisement in these channels since they have watched and received too many advertisements already. Moreover, for most Chinese these all are considered private.
They don’t like to be bothered by anything they don’t even know. In China, what people prefer is face to face, no matter if it is for sales promotion or negotiation. The Chinese only trust the people in real life. That’s why when Zhou Hongyi took the responsibility of Yahoo China, he fired all employees who only did E-mail promotion but never visited the clients.
What should you do, then?
First, Pay attention to Chinese culture
Chinese culture is totally different comparing with the Western cultures. Different political systems, different History, different religious beliefs. Thus, the culture strike shows extremely seriously in China.
Your company should do its best to avoid the culture strike and assume their role. We suggest you yo have a look to Lancôme experience in China.
Second, Explore the Chinese consumer behaviour and preferences
Knowing the Chinese consumer behavior and their preferences make the difference. What are the KPIs to attract them? What they care the most? What they pay less attention to? What channels they prefer to get promotion information?
All these questions need to be taken into account when setting up the marketing strategy in China.
Third, Know the correct channels
Due to the firewall in China, many foreign websites (Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are not allowed in the China mainland. Thus, use Chinese sources.
Fourth, Speak that language
Chinese people still prefer to speak Chinese. So, when doing business with them, try Mandarin: it is always more than welcome.
There are still lots of thing we need to explore and learn about China. In search of an Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Agency?
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 Open.
Have you ever heard about Guanxi?
This post seeks to provide practical guidelines to Companies on how to handle business interaction between Chinese and Foreign parties to ensure business agreements.
While doing a Market Research, Companies should be aware of some of the basic particularities which can condition their success or failure.
To develop an appropriate strategy of internationalization, it would be necessary to analyze some of the key-factors which can be decisive. Due to deep social differences among East and West, in China the importance of personal connections is crucial.
Major differences in negotiating with Chinese firms face many challenges which can eventually destroy a future profitable relationship.
Throughout this article we will make special mention of the term Guanxi.
Guanxi is essential for successfully doing business in China. The term is used to refer to a mutual trust between both parties, based on a long-lasting and reciprocal personal relationship.
Guanxi connections in China
There are some Chinese thinking patterns you should take into consideration before starting your business in the country:
- The importance of interpersonal relationships in business, terms specially related to hierarchy and reciprocity concepts.
- The effectiveness of moral over legal practices
- Prestige and public standing to guarantee the Face
In your approach to establish a networking, patience will be required in all the stages: to generate trust, to select the accurate network and to invest in a lasting relationship.
Why is Guanxi so important?
In China, economy is still strongly based on relationships. Trust remains the basis for economic transactions between Chinese people.
Therefore, Guanxi is a particularly valuable resource and becomes an essential facilitator of trade and economic transactions.
Three are the cornerstones on which to build Guanxi:
- A common social identity
- The existence of a third party in common
- A common aspiration of collaboration to create the potential bases for relationship
Chinese people do not show loyalty to the company, but to their personal relations
Networking can make the difference: eventually, right relationships will move your business faster in future.
But Guanxi also implies more traditional concepts to put it in practice:
- Mianzi: The care of positive prior appearances
- Renqing: Reciprocal favors as a moral obligation
- Ganqing: Emotional and enduring commitments that comes from the intimate social ties
The importance of an intermediary as a business enabler
Usually called Zhongjian Ren, the Intermediary deals with both parties to settle the differences in order to achieve a better solution to each problem.
Because Companies with best Guanxi win, having a proper Intermediary to represent your company can facilitate the business dealing and establish a successful business in Chinese market.
In search of Guanxi experience?
In 2 Open, we have the expertise you need to boost your Company to take advantage of the Asian market.
Despite its enormous potential, in China the ease of doing business experiences a lightning-fast evolution.
Trade in China still suffers from some difficulties that require a certain courage by those who seek success in the country.
Such evolution is aimed at providing increasing facilities for the establishment of trade relations in the country but, according to World Bank´s report, it still keeps the 84th position on the ranking.
What are the main challenges a foreign company must face in its landing in Chinese territory?
From 2 OPEN we have elaborated a guide with some basic steps to face the first stage of procedures, certifications and regulations any company need to face before entering on Chinese market.
Goods import: Are them all allowed in China?
The Chinese government has established in its Foreign Trade Law some basic categories over the import of goods.
However, not all goods are accepted by law; in every approach to the country, we must consult in the Catalogue Of Goods Prohibited from Export and Import.
Some enjoy specific requirements: Tariff quota is only available for licensed importers, and State-owned trade administration must be imported by authorized enterprises.
There are also some other terms to test: certifications, packaging, labelling, transportation…From 2 OPEN we can help you to face all the specific bureaucratic procedures involved in any approach to Chinese market.
Some goods may require specific certificates, registration by Chinese authorities or labelling requirements.
Standars varies depending on the levels, profession and industry your company comes from.
Being aware of the specific needs of our goods will facilitate the following steps for a successful importation into the country.
Importers, a key entrance
Whether your entry into the country is done in an autonomous manner or with the help of a qualified external importer, in both cases will be required to have a Foreign trade operator.
Remember that only those companies already ratified in China as a Foreign Invested Enterprise are able to get the permission to become a Foreign Trade Operator.
In case you prefer to have the assistance of an external operator, try to avoid surprises!
The Ministry of Commerce of China provides an official list of importers where you can find the most suitable to your company needs.
Warehouses and declaration procedures
Procedures will change depending on a set of variables, but the very basic requirement is The Customs Declaration Form of Imported Goods.
A specific stamp will be used for every Bonded warehouse goods coming into Chinese territory.
In case import goods change their formal bonded warehouse, particular formalities for custom transit and transport will be required.
Attending to a fair?
If your company is thinking on attending to any special exhibition in China, there is also specific legislation according to temporary import goods. Temporary goods are those which are planned to be in China for less than six months for specific reasons, such as fairs or expos.
Those goods should be approved by the authorities, and usually a deposit will be required.
The landing in the country requires of the understanding and the expertise of an expert team in China environment.
From the company, we have assisted companies from different fields to develop their business in Chinese market.
Have you ever asked somebody how to do something in China and gotten an unclear or contradictory answer? Worry no more my dear reader, getting to know things before actually doing them in China is extremely difficult, here is why!
Not all questions have a vague answer to them, we are mainly focusing on business related topics, to be more specific, new business models that are being implemented, for instance, WeChat account management, DSP advertising purchases, or cross-border e-commerce are among the main ones that seem to have a variety of answers to them.
Why? You might be wondering, well, these fields are fairly new and still need to mature a bit. This is the main reason why there is no general consensus yet, it basically comes down to who you are asking. A logistics company won’t give you the same answer as the Chinese Customs Administration, nor will an online e-commerce platform or a Chinese businessperson, everyone has a different perspective on the matter, finding out what works for you might be difficult.
In reality, nobody is 100% sure on how things should be done, in fact, it seems like everybody is experimenting with it. The information lacks, is unclear, or contradictory, so you ask yourself, what should I do in order to carry out my business in China?
Your first, and probably wisest option, would be to get in touch with 2 Open, we are used to deal with these types of problems all the time. Facing new challenges and pioneering is one our main strengths and we would be more than happy to help your business achieve its full potential.
Your second option would be to run a pilot test. Getting things right before actually starting is a smart thing to do. Try running some test orders and look at the problems that arise with its delivery process. This will not only give you the knowledge you need but will also let to know the experience you’ll be having later on. Even though this might not be as comfortable to do as it sounds, it certainly is the best way to go about it.
Apart form running this pilot test there is another important aspect you should keep in mind, that is trust. Uncertainty and risk taking are a part of these tests and having an honest trustworthy person on the other end is something that will help you solve any problems you might encounter. Trust issues within your working environment could harm the pace and results of your projects, this is something you might not want to take for granted.
All in all, trust is not enough, you also need to be patient, getting things right requires time and effort. Getting ahead of yourself without the knowledge required could costs you some precious time and money. Plan things ahead and gather all the information needed in order to succeed in the volatile Chinese market.
At 2 Open we have the experience and knowledge to develop your business in China. We not only know how solve problems but we also take that uncertainty on your behalf. Our team is passionate and enthusiastic about every project, our goal is to understand our clients business needs in order to provide the best possible services. If you have any questions or require any information about our services, please do not hesitate in contacting us, our group of specialists will happily assist you.
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This article was edited by Andres Arroyo Olson from 2Open.