The Chinese market’s purchasing power via ecommerce platforms is evidently on the rise. In 2013, China became the world’s largest and most dynamic source of online consumers after surpassing the US‘ web-based retail sales. Economic forecasts also predict a brighter future for China. Its sales through online shopping portals are expected to reach about $160 billion by 2018 , passing Europe and United States combined.
Now, many of the world’s leading companies aim to bank on this explosive growth in ecommerce, and some leading Western companies have already done so. However, entrepreneurs have yet to understand China’s key differences from other market sectors. Understanding its online market begins with knowing the online users and the companies providing e-services. Without this knowledge, penetrating this rich market would be next to impossible.
Here are five tactics that would help you capture the Chinese ecommerce market.
1. Adopt a broader but integrated platform.
Leveraging ecommerce platforms can be a huge advantage for businesses in China. Aside from making up for the lack of a physical establishment, online shopping is rapidly becoming the number one choice of Chinese consumers. According to a research by McKinsey, up to 70% of online users in China make purchases from web-based shops.
To expose your business to a larger base of customers, maximize the use of different digital platforms popular in China.
2. Get to know China’s network of distributors.
The structure of China’s online distributors is different from that in the West. Along with main distributors, the ecommerce industry is made up of smaller retailers with online shops. Although this consumer-to-consumer platform is slowly declining, it still constitutes about 50% of all Chinese ecommerce sales, making it a highly valuable marketplace. Knowing how the distribution pattern works strengthens your online marketing approach.
3. Leverage various social media.
In China, most consumers rely on social media and messaging apps to gain access to what their friends and relatives are saying about brands. Word-of-mouth marketing is more popular and considered more reliable by Chinese consumers, as they have some reservations about official statements from corporations. If you can create a buzz about your products or services through word of mouth, Chinese buyers are more likely to trust your brand.
4. Capitalize on location-specific services.
As mobile browsing grows in China, location-based services are also spreading rapidly. The online shopping experience of Chinese consumers is hinged on a seamless integration of social media and messaging, location-specific data, and mobile payment options—all of which make their e-commerce transactions faster and entirely more convenient.
5. Use online data to understand Chinese consumers.
Given the different factors that influence consumer choices, your understanding of Chinese customers’ behavior will never be enough. You need to continuously find patterns, detect emerging trends, and anticipate your market’s needs. But consumers’ online data can help you with this. By researching into the market, you can gain insights that would benefit your business and marketing approach. This would make your connection with Chinese customers more interactive than transactional.
The key to maximizing your capacity in the Chinese ecommerce market is understanding this sectors’ key differences from other consumers in different parts of the globe. There are unique practices and trends among businesses in China, and thus, adopting the same strategies you’ve always implemented will simply not work. It’s time to unlearn your old tactics and open your mind to new strategies to unleash your potential in the world’s biggest ecommerce industry.