Successfully penetrating China’s massive e-commerce market is a challenge for global brands across a variety of industries. While commerce moves quickly, attitudes and perceptions can be slow to catch up. But as knowledge of and visibility into e-commerce trends in China becomes more common and widespread, what once seemed like an opaque quagmire has become an area of opportunity for brands who approach the task with the right tools and tactics in hand.

What are some things to know before entering China’s market?

Though it might seem obvious, far too many foreign brands enter China’s e-commerce market without knowledge any deeper than the size of the market. While this is true, brands who are effective in penetrating the market know not only what is happening in the country right now, but also have a firm grasp on why certain elements are set up the way they are, and more importantly, where the country (and its tech and e-commerce ecosystem) is heading.

Here are ten important facts any brand should know about China and its economy

What sort of buying habits to Chinese consumers have?

While parallels and analogies can be drawn between Western and Chinese consumers, the stark differences in how and where brands market their products to consumers are of particular importance to any brand looking to drive growth in China. The profile of the tech-savvy, mobile-first, detail-oriented consumer in China must be understood in order to succeed. And brands who succeed in the market go even further than that. What is the difference between gen-z and millennial consumers? How does geography affect purchase behavior? What sort of marketplaces are most popular among specific industries and brands? What sort of customer service do Chinese consumers expect?

Read more about who the Chinese consumer is, where they shop, and what they expect

How can I expand a brand to China?

Of course, there’s much more to a successful penetration of China’s e-commerce market than simply targeting the right demographics and understanding differences in cultural expectations of Chinese consumers. Before a foreign brand can arrive at a point where a sophisticated marketing strategy is ready for launch, management must understand the nuances of doing business in China, and the first steps to take in order to ensure success. On top of confirming ownership of the appropriate trademarks in the market, companies must be confident that there is indeed a demand for its products.

Read more about how to expand in China

What companies offer logistics (3PL) support in China?

Though corporate behemoths like Apple, Amazon, Google, Coca-Cola and General Electric grab the most headlines, small and medium sized enterprises (SME) make up much more of the US’ business. So while the former are all able to flex their respective muscles to allow for vertical integration, SMEs naturally require more support in an effort to do business effectively in China and beyond. Third-party logistics (3PL) companies provide this required support by lending their expertise to services like warehousing, freight distribution, and shipping.

Learn more about how the right 3PL provider can make all the difference

How does China’s Great Firewall affect technology?

China’s legal and technical infrastructure has created a virtual border (colloquially known as the Great Firewall) that only allows certain information into its domestic internet from the rest of the world. What does that mean for global brands who want to sell products and services to Chinese consumers? China’s internet infrastructure has forced foreign organizations to strategize differently in order to drive growth in the market.

Read more about how the Great Firewall impacts doing business in China

Which business tools don’t work behind China’s Firewall?

Once a high-level understanding of what the Great Firewall is acquired, it’s time to dive into the specifics. That Google Analytics, Ads and Youtube are virtually non-existent in China is certainly cause for heightened attention. That said, Google Analytics isn’t the only major business tool which will need replacing. Fortunately, there exist established, reliable and effective workarounds for many of the services relied upon by Western and global brands that may or may not be used in China.

What tools do and do not work inside the Firewall and what are the alternatives? Deepen your knowledge here

How can I protect against cyber-security threats in China?

Across the globe, instances of massive data breaches by hacking are becoming a regular occurence, and one that any forward-thinking organization needs to be on guard for. With a completely different legal and technical system in place, China presents unique challenges and opportunities for foreign organizations who have a digital presence in the market. So how does a business comply effectively with Beijing’s legal requirements while minimizing concerns around data?

Learn more about the data and security in China

Does Google Analytics work in China?

Once a company has said goodbye to the idea of Google Analytics in China, it’s time to move on and explore alternatives. A company looking to have an effective website (hosted inside the market) and make lucrative inroads in the Chinese e-commerce space will need to understand the digital behaviour of consumers.

Read about how reliable website analytics in China can paint that picture

What is Baidu? Does Google work in China?

With organizations like Google and Facebook having completely transformed the marketing landscape throughout the Western world but not allowed inside the Great Firewall, it makes sense that Chinese entrepreneurs would develop their own versions of these powerful tools. What does that look like? The answer is Baidu, a massive Chinese tech company that is quickly outgrowing its relative obscurity in the West.

Learn more about what is baidu

How do I launch a Baidu campaign?

While Chinalytics ® is an unparalleled alternative to Google Analytics inside China’s Great Firewall, and Baidu effectively replaces Google’s search capabilities inside the market, how does an organization go about launching a Baidu campaign? How can one drive results across PPC and SEO?

Read this article and find out how to launch baidu campaigns

How can brands advertise on WeChat?

There may be no more important Chinese digital platform for a brand to familiarize itself with than WeChat. This app, whose functionality includes e-commerce capabilities, social media, messaging, payments and more counts over one-billion monthly users.

Couple the enormity of its user base with Chinese consumers’ penchant for mobile e-commerce, and it becomes clear that understanding how to effectively advertise and navigate WeChat is essential for any company looking to do business in China.

More about how to create a corporate WeChat account and market through China’s most popular online platform

How can I set up a Tmall store?

If a business is serious about selling its products to consumers in China, there is perhaps no more important platform on which they need to establish their presence than Tmall, China’s most popular e-commerce site.

The Alibaba-owned website Tmall.com is frequented by nearly 700 million users on a monthly basis and is the place where countless products (both foreign and domestic) are bought and sold. And for global brands looking to drive growth in the market, understanding the ins-and-outs of Alibaba’s flagship platform is key.

Read more about how to setup a tmall shop

Which is better- Tmall Global or Tmall Domestic Flagship stores?

Tmall’s prominence exceeded its Chinese borders long ago. Global brands have taken notice of the platform and want to make sure they’re grabbing their slice of the pie.

To make that process easier, attract more foreign brands, and to mitigate some of the complexities of piloting through China’s regulatory framework, Alibaba launched Tmall Global as a sister site to Tmall’s domestic flagship platform in 2014. This new site allows global brands to avoid some of the requirements of operating from inside the PRC, providing ostensibly an easier entry into China’s e-commerce market. But is opting to sell on Tmall Global versus Tmall Local really the best bet for global brands?

See the pros and cons of Tmall Global v.s. Tmall

What is a Tmall partner?

Success in China might look different for each company; the path towards achieving it certainly will. In all likelihood, early on in the “research” phase of a China market-entry plan, different organizations will realize the importance of solidifying their Tmall presence. However, in order to simplify that platform entry process, global companies would be wise to understand the value of working with an experience Tmall Partner (TP) and how to choose the right one.

Here are six things that the right Tmall Partner will do for your brand

What are the most popular promotional holidays in China?

Any research into the Chinese e-commerce market will have identified the prominence of promotional shopping holidays in the country. Though shopping holidays aren’t unique to China (think Boxing Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more), what’s interesting is that Chinese consumers participate in both traditional Western commercial holidays, and their own slew of high-traffic, high-revenue promotional days. What are the days to discount certain items and drive revenue?

Here’s an infographic outlining the most important and popular annual promotional shopping days in China, and what products are expected to be in sale

What is China’s 6/18 festival?

While summer usually means slower retail activity in the West, one of China’s biggest promotional holidays takes place in the first half of June every year. A stretch that starts on the first of the month and ends on June 18th was launched several years ago to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of JingDong (now known as JD.com), one of China’s top three e-commerce platforms.

But it isn’t just JD that relishes in the commercial fun in June. Tmall offers between 3 and 20 days of discounts around the same time frame.

Learn more about the annual 6/18 festival and how the 2019 edition went down

What is 11/11 in China?

Any organization serious about market entry and growth in China will already be familiar Singles’ Day or “11/11”. Furthermore, they will have begun planning for China’s busiest shopping day well in advance of the Fall season and will integrate the day into their yearly plan.

The Alibaba-created shopping holiday generated over $30 billion USD in 2018. In 2019, that number grew to over $38 billion USD.

Read why 2019 was the biggest 11/11 ever and why it’s vitally important that companies should start readying themselves for the 2020 instalment of Singles Day now

How can brands sell on 11/11 in China?

With astronomically high revenue numbers (and double digit growth each year), it’s not hard to understand that China’s most lucrative shopping holiday, 11/11 Singles’ Day, is a big deal. But it can be hard to know where to look to begin really understanding what makes Chinese consumers tick on November 11th.

To assist in the unpacking of what made Singles’ Day 2019 the richest ever, here’s an article breaking down what happened- and what to expect on Singles’ Day in 2020

What is the 12/12 festival in China?

Just because no shopping day in China is as large as 11/11 Singles’ Day, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tremendous opportunities to drive growth in the market. There’s no where that that applies better than what is likely the most important Chinese shopping holiday Westerners have likely never heard of: “12/12” or “Double 12”.

The five-day event draws upwards of 500 million customers and features retailers and brands from all over the world. And though it in many ways pales in comparison to its richer cousins 11/11 and 6/18, Double 12 is certainly a day of which businesses should take note.

In order to better understand what it is and how it works, check out this article about 12/12 festival in China