There are compelling reasons why you should be selling online to Chinese consumers.
Just under half of China’s 1.4 billion people are internet users and there are more than 300 million online shoppers. Latest estimates forecast that online sales of £615m will more than double to £1.4bn by 2020 and by then, there will be 280 million affluent consumers with a disposable income of between £15,000 and £800,000.
The next phase of growth will be fuelled by several factors – an increase in the choice of goods available online, increased spending by consumers living in smaller cities, due to weaker offline offerings, where 75% of China’s affluent middle class live, and new initiatives where China’s largest e-commerce platforms are partnering with bricks and mortar stores.
Chinese consumers are less trusting than consumers elsewhere – even staff at Apple and Lego have been unable to distinguish imitations from the real thing. If you are the brand owner or the authorised distributor, consumers will be more confident in buying your merchandise.
China is a dominant force in the manufacture of everyday items such as clothing and household appliances. British goods, which are increasingly specialised and niche can often find a market in China. Chinese consumers love Western brands. However, before you begin trading, you must ensure your intellectual property (IP) is protected and choose your partners carefully. you need to take good advice to ensure your patents are valid in China, but also be careful to guard your secrets as much as possible.
E-commerce success in China requires a strategic plan:
For most SME’s, presence on an established third-party platform is important. This removes many of the operational, logistical and bureaucratic problems encountered when entering the Chinese market. Also, you will selling on a platform trusted by the Chinese, who can make fast online payments and receive their purchases quickly. The biggest platform, TMall accounts for 45% of the online market.
Fast Delivery is something the Chinese have come to expect when shopping online. It should be one to two days at most if they’re buying something close to their city, and a few days if further away.
Social media such as Sina Weibo is closely tied to online shopping and should also be a key part in your strategy. 85% of consumers frequently use social media to share their online shopping experiences and 55% have participated in a discussion about foreign brands.
Your online offering is not only imperative to online sales, but also offline sales. 38% of Chinese consumers regularly increase their brand awareness through websites and a further 47% claimed official websites increased their purchase intent – much more than the traditional channels like TV, radio, and the press.