Starting an eCommerce business in China differs vastly from starting it on any other land on the Earth. It requires a lot of careful preparation, planning, & the right kind of solutions to get ahead. Besides, there are few extra variables that you must consider before starting up.
Taking care of all this will help start a successful eCommerce website in China. And this guide perfectly delves deep into the aspects that business owners need to pay attention to. The guide consists of checklists and steps for you to apply with some additional actions to enter into the Chinese market.
Ecommerce Website Success Checklist for China
Breaking into the Chinese market has its own set of difficulties mainly because of cultural differences. However, being a highly populated country, China is the ultimate destination for business owners to start their eCommerce ventures. And if you are seeking to start an eCommerce website in China, the following checklist can come in handy. So, without further ado, let’s start.
1. Make Sure the Product Is Legal to Sell and Country Is Ready for It
While opening a new eCommerce store, you must give it some thought about what kind of products you want to sell in the Chinese market. China has strict regulations when it comes to selling products on online portals, especially for entities based outside of China. So, do a little digging and find what stuff is legal to sell and what isn’t.
Once you have taken care of that, next is to make sure the Chinese market is ready for your products. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your products will be welcomed & accepted by the Chinese people. What you should do is evaluate and analyze the idea with regard to the Chinese market. Even if the idea is well accepted and successful in other regions of the world, it’s possible your idea can turn out to be an absolute flop in China.
The consumers in China have different needs which determine their buying patterns. So, it becomes essential for you to verify your idea even before you spend any money on website or product development. Assess what your prospective customers want out of your product. And the following questions can help in doing so.
- What are the needs of your customers?
- How does the product address the problem?
- Is your product fill the void in the market?
By researching online and exploring Chinese social media, you’ll get through this step. You can even interview real customers to know what they think about your products. This can be challenging if you stay outside of China, but because it is a critical aspect, you may hire a professional market research team based in China.
2. Conduct a Thorough Market Research
From the previous checkpoint, you get some comfortable results which reveal that you may have a chance of prospering in China. So, the next step would be to go ahead with extensive market research that determines the following points:
- Create a customer profile with information like age, gender, family status, annual income, etc.
- Based on profiles, create buyer personas.
- Define how big is the market?
- Get to know about your competitors.
The more accurate the buyer information is, the more chances you have for a successful eCommerce business. Until you complete the market research, we suggest you hold back your horses from developing the sales platform. Because the market research will also lead you to the direction that helps determine the design criteria for eCommerce in the Chinese market.
When it comes to tools to employ for market research, you only have limited options here. Explore popular marketplaces of China such as Alibaba, JD.com, Tmail, and others to collect information about your competitors. Spend a bit of time to understand what your competitors are doing & and what customers are saying about it. This way, you can have valuable information using which you can better your offerings that perfectly fill the market gap.
3. Take Care of the Legalities for Opening Ecommerce Website
The next thing you would want to do is take care of the legal stuff, which is an essential aspect to consider. The first thing you would want to do is get approval from the Chinese government before you open your eCommerce business there. And getting approval in China is one of the daunting tasks, in which you must get an ICP license issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry & Information Technology. Only they can allow you to operate your eCommerce business in China.
Obtaining the license is not that easy and the procedure or requirement may vary from city to city. There are exceptions for some cases that allow you to sell without a license. But if the government blocks your eCommerce business, this might be an irreversible process.
Partnering up with a local Chinese company is also pivotal and the government may shut down your business if you don’t partner up. So, it’s essential to seek a professional local company to partner up with. Doing so will also help you to get the necessary license & documents faster.
4. Hosting Your Sales Platform in China
One of the crucial decisions that business owners have to take is hosting their eCommerce platform in China or elsewhere. Foreign websites hosted in China have to go through the censorship system called “Great Firewall of China.” Great Firewall of China can hinder the performance of your website and make it sluggish than the local websites hosted inside China.
Even the websites hosted in neighboring countries like Hong Kong won’t give you the same performance as the websites hosted in China have. This impacts the user experience creating a negative impression and ultimately affecting your revenue generation.
Alternatively, you can host websites outside of China. However, it is advisable to host your eCommerce sales platform inside the Country to avoid the complicated Chinese legal procedures. And for the same, you must obtain the ICP license as mentioned previously.
5. Select the Right Platform for Selling
The selection of the platform is determined based on the size of your company and the budget you have. You can go for a custom eCommerce platform development to have a unique presence in the Chinese market. But this can draw a substantial cost and the best alternative for that is to use an eCommerce platform like Magento, Drupal, or others.
Such professional platforms can be customized to reflect your brand and the cost of using the platform is significantly lower than the developing personalized solution. The DIY approach isn’t going to work because your sales platform should be customized in a way to represent your brand and the content must be organized keeping the Chinese consumers in mind.
For the same, you can hire an eCommerce development company that knows a bit about China or best hire any local web agencies to get over with the sales platform development task.
6. Choose a Marketing Strategy Especially for China
The first thing new business owners need to do is find a name and logo for their business that represents their brand. The name & logo must be appealing and resonate with the people. Next, define what’s going to be your Unique Selling Point (USP). With a clear USP, you can win over your target audience easily.
Make good use of the information you have collected in the market research step to craft a message that draws customers in to buy products from you. Your marketing strategy starts with what content you put on your website. Craft all your message, communication, and copies keeping the target audience in mind.
Also, leverage the Chinese social tools like WeChat that has over a billion users. It offers several tools for you to implement in your marketing strategy and providing you a chance to reach a massive audience. As Google is inoperable in Chine, people rely on Baidu for the online search. So, some of your funds should be reserved for running effective SEO campaigns on Baidu in China.
7. Prepare for How Payments Work in China
After you have taken care of everything, the last thing is to convert visitors into your customers by offering their preferred way of making payments. An easy and comfortable way of making purchases significantly affects the conversion rate positively. But there’s a catch when it comes to receiving payment from Chinese people.
Chinese consumers prefer to use Alipay & WeChatPay for making payments online. So, you must integrate such payment gateways into your eCommerce platform to gain the trust of consumers and help them finalize their purchases.
Starting a successful eCommerce business in China requires a lot of planning, market research, hard work & commitment. There are some legalities and local rules that can shift the paradigm of your eCommerce business. However, if you do your homework diligently, you can achieve success in this large Chinese market.
Want to develop a successful eCommerce website in China? M-Connect Media is a one-stop solution that can help you build the most customer-centric website that perfectly resonates with Chinese consumers. Contact us now to discuss your project requirement and kickstart the work right away.