5 Bugs To Avoid When Doing E-Commerce In China
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!
Surely you’ve never heard the words Baidu, WeChat and Weibo… and let us tell you that you have a huge problem in China.
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.
New Online Advertising Rules in China
New online advertising regulation in China will impact all digital business with presence in China. Here we bring you an analysis overview to start adapting to the new trend in advertisement.
It would be after the death of a college student who took part in an experimental health treatment found in Baidu, when popular pressure would force the Government to begin an ads regulatory change.
The Internet Ad Interim Measures, a new regulation prompted by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China, went into effect in September 1st. Therefore, it arises from the Government’s claim by adopt new rules over online advertisement: email, paid searches, embedded links, images, and videos are already subject to the new law. Its aim is avoiding the spread of misleading advertisements on the Net, and correct the prevailing liberality so far.
The new online advertising regulations are expected to impact on Chinese Digital Marketing as a whole: social media, search engines, apps and electronic commerce in the country will have to move under the new guidelines.
A step closer to the uses and customs in Western advertisements
For the first time in China, the new measure features a specific definition of Internet advertising; often, foreigners suffer from a lack of legislative safety in China. Therefore, conceptualization is a step forward to define clearly not only the concept, but also its extension:
“Internet advertising is advertisements that directly or indirectly sell commercial goods or services through the websites, web pages, internet applications and other forms of Internet media including text, images, audio, video and etc.”
Moreover, the regulation comes to underline its main purpose:
“To protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, and promote the healthy development of the Internet advertising industry.”
In what fields are these changes applicable? What changes will take place after its implementation?
The regulation is particularly focused on a list of fields described below:
-Healthcare and medicine
-Food and beverage
The main measures to be starting to apply can be summarized as:
–First, the Law requires to place the word “advertisement” in a prominent position and clearly distinguishable at first sight.
–Second, every field subject of special regulation needs a previous review and an approval process by authorities.
–Third, online advertisements for prescription medicine is banned. A special measure in health products is also extended to medicines, pesticides or medical supplies.
–Fourth, tobacco online ads are also banned.
–Fifth, any paid search results, links or content must be clearly identified by the word “advertisement”.
–Sixth, users should not only have the choice to close an ad, but also this has to be easy to them.
–Seventh, paid links and contents must be clearly detailed at a glance.
–Eighth, any attached ad and/or promotional links to an email should have been allowed previously.
–Ninth, any misleading and/or false ad is considered illegal from now on.
Who is especially affected by the new regulation?
Under this measure, the biggest impact falls on the largest Internet companies in China. Baidu and Bing should apply new restrictions on ads; it should not be forgotten that, much of the incomes of Baidu, Weibo or Alibaba come advertising.
But also traditional Social Media must change. WeChat or Weibo offer paid content; as we mention before, pop-ups, ads or links should be first permitted, which will force companies to evolve the way advertising is offered to Chinese users. Seems marketers should start creating better ads, or contravening the prevailing legislation with all the penalties that that means.
There are plenty of creative ways to sell your services and products in China. In search of a Digital Marketing Agency?
Why China E-commerce Goes So Fast?
All of us are very well aware of the magnitude of the Chinese online market and, although it is currently the largest Ecommerce market in the world, it is also the most changeable one.
From 2 Open, we want to enable your approach to China giving you some practical guidelines about the current state of Ecommerce in China.
Understanding what is happening in China needs time and a constant willingness to learn: sometimes its fast evolution makes it hard to follow the new trends, other times foreigners just find an incomplete analysis.
According to the analysis report done by Data Center of China Internet -from now on DCCI-, China has currently taken the first place as the greatest E-commerce country in the world, while the online shopping penetration rate of China is in the second place after United States.
The result of China E-commerce indicates the Chinese economic keystone in recent years, also their development trend of commerce in the future.
As a result, in 2 Open we strongly believe there are more opportunities in the future for E-commerce development.
There are a range of factors we should take into consideration in our approach to the country:
E-commerce market is booming, due to the existence of multiple factors which stimulate the development
In 2015 in China, penetration rate of online shopping reached to 56%. This means there is a huge space to further development comparing with the most-developed countries, and a great opportunity to companies coming to China.
Although there are many factors which are promoting the trend, the main reasons can be summarized in a set of main points:
- Population: Until June 2015, China has 668 million netizens, 594 million mobile phone users and 374 million online shoppers. This leads us to a great size of online shoppers and a strong demand in domestic market.
- Policy: China and its Government have adapted many strategies and measures to promote the E-commerce development. It is a fact that the confluence of two forces have achieved incredible results in recent times.
- Technology: The mature E-commerce relating technologies facilitates the promotion of various industries, especially those related to the Big Data, Internet security, Online payment and Mobile technology. A niche market that is worthy.
- Enterprise: Internet companies have finally joined and distribute to the whole industry, so the result has been that most of the traditional E-commerce companies are transforming to the New Model. Thanks to it, the industry chains of BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) cover a large area in China and it is expected to keep growing in future.
- Ecological Integration: The whole industry is getting into a mixture between online and offline industry. Take a look to Alibabas example: they have relied on the industry chain of E-commerce to integrate video, games, travel, finance and other fields into a complete unity. That is the future!
- Basic Infrastructure: Internet infrastructure develops rapidly, especially the Mobile Internet. But also 4G is changing the scene: in the end of July 2015, China 4G accumulated more than 250 million users and 4G base stations were over 1.53 million, of which the construction of TD-LTE base stations were over 1 million. Nowadays, 4G smart phone has already accounted for 82.7% of the domestic smartphone market and seems there is still a gap to fill.
Accommodating to the human-oriented strategy, the E-commerce marketing gets a standout result
With the diversification of E-commerce, the elements influence on the marketing result also became complicated, thus the marketing KPIs should be clear for the marketing themes and goals.
E-commerce marketing has changed from past into a new model of advertising, which is accommodated to the Internet users.
The Model of procedural purchase facilitates the result of advertising, optimizing the convention, and achieves 3 times of ROI:
- The user is the focus: Advertisement position of E-commerce marketing is transforming into human-oriented.
- Procedural purchase is pushing E-commerce marketing into OTG (On-The-Go) model.
Rapid growth of mobile terminal and Big Data brings more commercial values
Now in China Ecommerce market, users, marketing and advertisement investors are in favor of mobile terminal. With the development of mobile technology, the traditional business was greatly impacted.
¿The result? Big Data sharing connects user, product and service together; each data channel communicate with others can release a higher-value data stream.
Vigorously develop of the “festival event”
In recent years, the festival promotion has become an important way of arresting customers. Since November 2011, it has already turned into a battle for the Chinese leading E-commerce companies.
But also the advantage of big data sharing and innovated technology did a tremendous support in the precise marketing and advertisement.
Take Tmall as an example: in 2015, the turnover of Tmall reached ¥57.1 billion just in one day. A huge amount that can still increase.
The tremendous transformation that China lives, cannot be understood without experiencing it by firsthand.
From 2 Open, we have a global perspective and the expertise any company thinking on coming to China needs to develop its business in the country.
If you are looking to take advantage of Chinese Ecommerce, we will be happy to help you.
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 Open
7 Facts You Need to Know About The Chinese Online Market
1. The Chinese online ecosystem is shaped by the actions of the B.A.T.
The B.A.T. is a group consisting of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. They are the dominant players in the Chinese online ecosystem. The dynamics of their competition and cooperation defines the boundary and possibilities of digital marketing and ecommerce in China. Each member of the B.A.T. dominates important segments of the online ecosystem: Baidu dominates the search engine market; Tencent is strong in social media, and Alibaba fiercely rules ecommerce. The results of this competition can provide inconveniences for online marketers. Baidu, for instance, is reluctant to direct search traffic to Tmall stores and pages, where in some cases a company will need special permission from Baidu to promote Tmall stores using Baidu’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
2. Baidu’s dominance in the search market
Baidu’s dominance in the Chinese search market means that most search engine related marketing activities requires the cooperation of Baidu to work. Baidu’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is different from Google’s SEO. Baidu still requires Meta data for proper indexing and it prioritizes loading speed quite heavily. Setting up SEM accounts with Baidu can either be an easy task that lasts for several working days or an excruciatingly slow and cumbersome process, which might take months to complete. This depends on the involved company’s policy match with Baidu’s requirements. There is also a minimum investment requirement for setting up an account. These can range from as low as 6,000 RMB to as much as 500,000 RMB depending on the type of account that is being opened. One of the most important aspects of Baidu’s listing is the absence of brand protection. This means that brand keywords can be bought by any paying parties willing to buy them. This might lead to unfair price based competition between official suppliers and the unofficial ones, or even from someone that sells fake products through proper channels.
3. Wechat is not just a messaging app; it is a lifestyle app that defines online interaction in China
It is hard not to know about Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in 2016, yet many are not familiar with Wechat if they live outside of China. Many foreigners regard Wechat as a Chinese version of Whatsapp but it is far from just a messaging app. To be more precise, Wechat combines the function of many known social media sites and utility apps. Users can chat, post their photos, sell items, make online payments, book a ride, buy transportation tickets, invest their money, and more. In addition to being used as a private app, it’s becoming more and more popular in the work place, mainly used for communications. With so many diverse functions and over 600 million registered users, marketers naturally want to use Wechat as a channel to communicate to their target audience. Wechat offers the possibility of a one on one customer service; creating customized functions to improve the brand experience. However, with the Wechat craze comes the high costs of Wechat marketing. Posting merketing content on a big account with upwards of 100,000 followers can cost as much as 80,000 RMB.
4. The Chinese consumer has embraced ecommerce faster than most markets
The rise of ecommerce in China surprised many outside observers. Many consumers born in the 80’s and 90’s have fully embraced the concept of ecommerce as the main way to purchase items. Anything from daily necessities to premium products can be purchased. The Chinese consumer responds well to online promotions and acceptance of new brands, however, most of them are still price sensitive. Foreign brands selling in the Chinese market to the Chinese consumer are less likely to be successful offline due to the high cost of real estate. Platforms such as Tmall and Jing Dong and vertical e-store are the best way to sell to consumers in China. Ecommerce events such as 11.11 are already a cultural phenomenon in China where the total transactions can be above 11 billion USD in one day.
5. China has one of the most highly regulated online environments in the world
China is one of the fastest growing online markets yet it is one of the most regulated ones. Traffic data going in and out of the country is heavily censored and is significantly slower than domestic traffic. This means that local hosting might be necessary for optimum speed. To publish a website, a company is required to obtain the Internet Content Provider (ICP) license to publish any content online. China has a very strict advertising law. Multinationals are regularly hit with fines for violating the law and some fines can go up to 100 million RMB. It is critical to study the proper regulations and laws before entering the Chinese market to prevent future risks and losses.
6. Mobile is not the future; it’s already the dominant traffic in China
In recent years, PC traffic has been decreasing 15% every year, whereas mobile traffic has been increasing as much as 20% in the same time frame. Many online retailers are reporting that most buyers are using their mobile phones to buy items online. Conversion for mobile traffic is also higher than PC traffic in many cases. This is due to the high penetration rate of smartphones as well as user reliance on mobile devices for online payments. It is easier for users to pay online with mobile phones than it is with their PC. Traditionally, consumers would use their PC to do extensive research before buying online. However, with improved mobile connectivity and mobile optimized websites, many consumers are abandoning PC and in some cases only uses PC for work related activities. The pay-per-click for mobile traffic can create as much as 300% higher than PC traffic in some industries, mainly due to limited advertising space and high demand.
7. Local content through local perspective
The Chinese market is still flooded with marketing contents that are just a direct translation from their original language. Some branding videos of multinational companies do not have Chinese voice-overs, only Chinese subtitles. While these contents do not necessarily fail to communicate their intended message, most have drastically reduced their effectiveness and recall rate due to being less relevant. In order to communicate effectively, companies need to dig deep to find relevant messages and hire local content producers as a bridge to effectively communicate to their Chinese consumers. This is especially relevant when publishing materials online, where the Chinese consumer expects instant gratification, not a bad translation.
This article was edited by Andres Arroyo Olson from 2Open.
General situation of fake products in China
It is common knowledge that fake products are everywhere in China, from large cities like Shanghai to remote small towns in Western China and, not surprisingly, online markets are not the exception, even though there is a lack of acknowledgment from their part, it seems that fake products are a part of China whether we like it or not.
The online market giant Alibaba group was sued in the U.S. regarding fake products regulations. According to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, his company spends over one hundred million RMB each year on actions against counterfeit goods. The situation has improved considerately over the past few years, some shops have even been closed down due to this sort of issues. 2Open, as a company who deals everyday with marketing and e-commerce, is used to supervise online sales in China for many clients and the number of shops selling a certain brand with an unbelievably lower price has decreased noticeably in comparison with last year. There is still a lot of work to do, but exactly what types of products are more likely to be faked?
The most common faked goods are well-known brands, such as Nike, Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc. If a new brand wants to enter China, it will seldom encounter issues regarding fake products. In this situation, just a small budget is needed for online marketing which could be used for setting up a shop on www.taobao.com, putting online Ads or even buying key words on search engines, all of which can have a positive effect and lead buyers to get to know your brand. Since you are the shop owner and the only supplier at this moment, the buyer will come to you directly; no other shops will take potential buyers from you.
Let us say your brand successfully entered the Chinese market, perhaps one day someone will start faking and selling your products, but how would this affect your brand? Some argue that this is just indicator of the success and popularity that your product has had in the Chinese market and that there are no reasons to be worried. Experts agree that there is plenty of space in the market for both parties; a lot of people prefer to buy original products for a higher price than fake ones for a lower one. Counterfeiting could be considered a promotion activity for a brand, after all, if you are confident about your products, put money into marketing, let people know about it, you will get money back, no doubts about it, but how is the future looking for fake goods?
According to Xinhuanet, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has gathered around four giant e-commerce platforms: Alibaba, Jingdong, Suning, Yihaodian to sign a cooperation agreement which will help to release inspection results of the fulfillment of product quality commitment. AQSIQ has developed a search platform of inspection of product quality, which will be put online for public use around March 15, 2016.
Fake products problems continue to plague the development of e-commerce. Jingdong and Alibaba have been fighting a war these days, accusing each other of not making efforts to end the fake goods. The offline scene does not look very bright either, street shops are now going through a rough time these days, people are getting used to purchase everything online, from groceries to electronics, during the singles day alone (Nov. 11, 2015) Taobao reached a sales volume of 91,217,017,615 RMB.
It is an Internet Era, no doubt about it, and counterfeit goods should not represent any obstacle if one should intent entering the Chinese market. A smart digital marketing strategy, like the one 2Open offers, can get your brand the recognition it deserves.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
This article was edited by Andres Arroyo from 2Open.