Global Ecommerce

Global Ecommerce

Crafting a successful digital strategy for Chinese ecommerce

By Johnathan Kapplow, SVP Consumer & Merchant Solutions, Pitney Bowes

Chinese consumers have a big appetite for out-of-country – or haitao – shopping. How do cross-border retailers serve this growing need? With a better, more integrated digital strategy.

As the 2016 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study revealed, Chinese consumers are increasingly trusting of foreign retailers, primarily because they know these merchants can offer the high-quality, authentic products customers want. The question for retailers is, how do you build on that trust and differentiate your business with an audience that has likely never heard of you?

In our last blog on this topic we covered three important business-level considerations for retailers who want to sell into China. This time, we want to take a deeper dive as it relates to digital strategy. After all, your presence on Web, mobile and social platforms will serve as your direct connection to these new buyers, which means each destination needs to be tailored to the needs and expectations of Chinese customers. Here’s how you get there.

1.      Adapt your website with visitor preferences in mind

If you’re designing a new website for China, you’ll want to create an experience that is familiar to local shoppers.

In the U.S., we’ve grown accustomed to clean, minimalist website design – you can thank digital pioneers Apple and Google for that. However, as Eriksen Translations’ Jennifer Murphy wrote for us last year, Chinese websites are by comparison much brighter, more colourful and packed with information.

Two of the most popular retail marketplaces – Taobao and Tmall – run websites that are crowded with big, colourful imagery and flashy animations. Products of all kinds are dropped right on infinitely scrolling home pages and, despite sparse categorisation, shoppers are able to find what they need.

2.      Create an integrated mobile and social experience

eMarketer says Chinese consumers use their mobile phones to conduct more than half of all ecommerce  transactions. Social media in China is just as prolific as other parts of the world.

As a retailer selling into China, you need to have a presence on both mobile and social, but it’s best if you create integrated experiences across each platform. A notable example is the emergence of ecommerce storefronts set up inside China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat. These allow Chinese consumers to shop in the same mobile app they use to chat with friends, and it’s a great example of how brands can leverage a holistic mobile and social experience to satisfy multiple needs.

3.       Make local a key part of your digital strategy

To build trust with Chinese consumers, you need to speak their language – literally and figuratively. That means understanding linguistic nuances – like the difference between Simplified and Traditional Chinese – but also cultural differences that if unaddressed, can trip up a successful international launch.

Local support is hugely valuable to your digital strategy, whether it’s a native-speaking QA tester that checks the usability and logic of your mobile website, a local social team to engage in meaningful interactions with your new customers, or partnerships with local businesses to create a more integrated digital strategy.

As always, going global often first means getting a good handle on the local market. It pays to do your homework first and establish key partnerships in order to put your best foot forward.

To learn more about the Chinese market, as well as the buying preferences and habits of ecommerce consumers around the world, download the 2016 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study.

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