This article provides an overview of how optimising the customer experience within the Chinese eCommerce market can have a huge impact.
Many of the technologies and techniques employed in the Chinese online retail are familiar to many, western, international merchants. However, approaching the market with a mentality based on copying the same model and expectations around behaviours from another market to the Chinese one will often result in failure. A desire to have even a small ‘slice’ of the USD $1.1trn eCommerce market is legitimate. Expecting to sweep in and show the Chinese customer how it should be done is not!
The customer journey and expectations are very different. 85% of consumers will only purchase if they are satisfied with the quality, detail and transparency of the product description. Likewise, the availability of local payment options and comparable delivery services, including returns and details on the order process are key to the final decision.
Social platforms form a major part of the decision-making process, not just for product discovery but also for buyer reassurance, research and customer service. Developing a clear, localised social media strategy is important, understanding that this is a commercial channel, not just a communications tool. Increasingly, mobile is a key to the success of the retail proposition as it now accounts for over half of all eCommerce transactions.
Routes to market will often include using a marketplace. They provide easy access to a large buying audience, confidence to consumers who may not have heard of the brand, and availability of well-developed logistics operations. However, merchants should bear in mind the associated costs of being involved with these platforms and understand how the ROI might look. With local agencies often required to carry out work on the platform, these fees can soon mount up.
Going direct however has its own challenges. Merchants will need to have a legal entity in-country before they can purchase a .cn URL. In addition, various licenses and registrations will also be required - not impossible but has a longer lead time.
Fulfilment providers have made massive advances in terms of service provision, allowing international merchants to compete on local terms.
Chinese government efforts have now been directed at improving the infrastructure, systems and legislation to encourage the growth of eCommerce; both domestic and cross border. The benefits for international merchants will be felt through 2018 as these changes start to impact the market.
Key areas for international merchants looking to the Chinese market include:
The headline numbers are large by any comparison but achieving a balanced view and plan around what is practical and realistic is central to a successful Chinese business. Just remember that it is very different from your domestic market and if you do get it right, the numbers mean it could be very successful. How would you manage that?
This article provides an overview of the China eCommerce market customer experience expectation – we have produced a full country guide covering in-depth information on multiple aspects of trading into this territory including logistics, payments, legal framework and marketing.
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