It’s predicted that around half of China’s eCommerce market will comprise cross-border commerce: that’s around a quarter of the population (source: eMarketer). Here’s what you need to know to succeed in China’s eCommerce market. 

MEET THE MILLENNIALS

In China’s eCommerce world, the millennial is king. 70% of online shoppers are 18-35-year-olds (source: East West Bank) who are young, tech-savvy and able to spend freely. However, if you want to gain their attention, you’ll have to fight for it. Here’s how:

1. Flaunt the foreign
Due to the poor standard of domestic goods, Chinese consumers often look abroad for quality. So, leverage your brand heritage but in a way that tells a story, captures imagination and, most importantly, gives the consumer a feeling of heightened social identity.

2. Build your brand
Overseas brand awareness is strong, but you’ll need to make it local. Chinese consumers connect with brands that match their personality, values and dynamism. So, encourage self-expression and turn your consumers into brand participants.

3. Supply the stats
Compare any product on Amazon and Alibaba, and you’ll notice a stark contrast in how much information is offered. In this case, more information is better. This stems from a grown skepticism over product authenticity and quality due to significant historical issues over counterfeit goods and substandard quality.

GO MOBILE

Almost 100% of 14-47 year olds in China own a smartphone (source: World Economic Forum), and most use it to make online purchases, so it goes without saying that any successful marketing campaign will need to be mobile friendly.

Here are a few key tips to bear in mind:

1. Set up shop
Virtual marketplaces are increasingly popular, hosted on websites like Tmall Global and JD.com. They ditch emails to allow consumers and vendors to interact quickly and directly.

2. Open all hours
Traditional shopping hours are changing since consumers can now shop at anytime via mobile. They expect instant answers to their questions; so, you should be ready to help at any time. This provides timely and quality customer service compared to that in physical stores, which drives more consumers online.

3. Pay as you go
Mobile payment platform, WeChat Pay, is a big deal in China, used for both online and offline purchases. This popular app is available for overseas businesses, which could mean great potential rewards if you use this payment method.

STAY CONNECTED

Social media is as popular in China as anywhere else in the world, but the key platforms are different. Facebook and Twitter are out; WeChat and Weibo are in. The rules of engagement are also different, so keep the following in mind:

1. Keep it personal
In China, social media is personal, with smaller scale communication. Any successful marketing strategy will need to adopt a personal touch, tailored to interact with consumers at an individual level.

2. Encourage participation
An advertising message won’t cut it; you’ll need to engage consumers with your content. Videos, mini-games and competitions are just some ways of attracting attention, but the more creative the idea, the more positive the results.

3. Take it offline
QR codes are still huge in China and can be used to provide extra product information, offer vouchers and discounts, or even serve as an alternative payment method. Successfully engaging consumers with QR content is an effective way of marrying online and offline content, and it’s a growing trend.

FINAL THOUGHT

Follow these tips, and you’ll drive successful results in your Chinese eCommerce efforts. You might also consider offering loyalty programs; while these may be on the decline in parts of the west, an attractive loyalty offering could be a differentiator for your Chinese audience.