A population of 1.4 billion. 650 million internet users. An e-commerce market with a value of almost 2 trillion dollars. Numbers like these should be enough to whet the appetite of any business with international ambitions. Below we take a look at the nuances of selling in the world’s largest e-commerce market, the shifting attitudes of Chinese consumers and why you need to be selling there now.
The Only Way Is Up
Over the past decade economic growth in China has been almost unprecedented, and whilst an inevitable slow-down might have kicked in over the past two years, China still made the top 10 for countries with the greatest economic growth in 2016, with GDP increasing by 6.5%. With rising wages and an emerging middle class, China’s 322 million online consumers are becoming increasingly affluent, with urban customers’ disposable income set to double from the previous decade by 2020. Couple this with how e-commerce sales in the country are also predicted to double between 2017 and 2020, and it’s clear that China’s online market presents plenty of lucrative opportunities for foreign companies.
With China’s cross-border e-commerce totalling an estimated 40 billion dollars in 2015 and such figures growing upwards of 50% annually, Chinese consumers are more likely to look to international markets for their online purchases than you might think. Reasons vary from beating lengthy domestic product launch schedules to avoiding the counterfeit versions of international goods that are offered closer to home, but one thing’s for sure, cross-border purchases are here to stay, with more than a quarter of the population projected to shop digitally for foreign products by 2020.
The Importance Of Face
The importance of ‘Face’ is a key concept in China, with Chinese consumers happy to pay a premium for the pride, prestige and social status that comes with purchasing Western brands. Chinese consumers generally favour foreign brands, and such is the relationship between quality-conscious Chinese shoppers and the companies that court them that some Chinese businesses have been known to deliberately take root in foreign countries in order to gain acceptance back home.
A Cautiously Connected Country
Thanks in part to its accelerated growth over the past decade, China’s approach to e-commerce has been a lot more forthcoming than countries familiar with decades of luxurious high-street shopping. What’s more, with 520 million smartphone users, China’s mobile sales have already surpassed those made on conventional computers, with this expected to grow to over 61% by 2018.
But despite this proactive approach to e-commerce, China can seem like a walking contradiction when it comes to other areas of the internet. With Google heavily censored and 70% of online searches made through home-grown search engine Baidu, reaching an online audience can be difficult, with inaccurate product translations lacking sufficient detail also known to seriously turn Chinese consumers off.
Here at Pertemba we can sell, ship and deliver your products direct to consumers in China, with customer service and translations handled by dedicated in-house staff. Want to learn more? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org