Go East, young man

Go East, young man

European trading looks unsettled right now, but China’s eCommerce sector is booming.

You’ve got big markets and big markets. And then you’ve got the Chinese e-commerce market. Last year, sales in China totalled around $562 billion. That’s almost as much as Britain sends them in economic aid.

That was a joke, by the way.

Shopping online in China is woven into the national psyche, in the same way that using geese as guard dogs is and eating eggs boiled in wee. No, really. Google it.

With the European trading landscape looking a little, ah, unsettled right now, could there be scope for closer ties with China? With over 600 million Internet users, it’s theoretically enticing. But how to go about it?

There’s much to consider. As well as the cultural differences – which are immense (consider the dwarf theme park or the fact they have only one time zone, meaning the sun rises at 10am in some places) – but work ethic and approach, too.

The key is to go local. It seems that Chinese eshoppers expect to buy the same services online that they can get on the corner of the street.

For the British eCommerce seller, the key questions are: Is there any demand for your products? Who is selling the same stuff locally? How can you test the market? And why don’t buyers just pop to the local store and avoid postal charges?

Alibaba is the way to go. (Let’s hope they sacked the 40 thieves.) This is China’s leading eCommerce company with 80% of the market. Western retailers can tap into Alibaba’s central webpage, which is full of qualified traffic.

What else to consider? Well, research has shown that the main influence on Chinese customers is price, followed by convenience and then trust.

Chinese buyers love a bargain almost as much as they love munching on salted pig faces, but they also feel that they’re getting better quality with higher prices. A good strategy might be to sell everyday items low but add a premium to impulse buys.

Content is also key. Offer lots of images and detailed descriptions. Go for colours that stand for joy and prosperity: think red and orange.

China has over 700 million mobile-phone users, so your online store needs to be mobile-friendly and you’ll need a strong m-commerce strategy. Finally, in China, 75% of customers leave feedback, so best make sure your customer support is on point.

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Author Chris Painter

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