If you are operating an e-commerce business in China or intend to operate e-commerce business in China, then you can’t miss this.
The global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Alibaba Group attempt to look deeper into how China came so far in so little time, thus a report called “The Chinese Consumer’s Online Journey from Discovery to Purchase” was released in two parts (the first on May 4 and the second on June 21), offers in-depth analysis of the booming e-commerce industry in China and how it has taken a different evolutionary track from its Western counterparts.
Below are 10 key differences of the e-commerce landscape between the West and China based on the findings in the report reflecting history, consumer behaviors, the digital marketplace, and technology:
Chinese value the “richer experience & entertainment” for online shopping while the West value efficiency
Compared to Western consumers who value efficiency in e-commerce purchase, Chinese consumers value the discovery they can enjoy the process of the online shopping journey. Entertainment and social experience are considered the positive physiological effect and good feeling that they can get out from the shopping journey rather than a solitary one.
China’s consumers go online to be entertained, to educate themselves, and to share with friends on social media. The blend of “entertaining, informative, while educating” video tutorial delivered by a well-known makeup artist is an excellent way to incentivize purchase. Another example is Tmall’s “digital mirror” app for their smartphones. Users can take selfies, share the photos with friends, and buy products directly from the app.
Chinese value purchase as a personalized discovery vs. Western consumers mainly use “searches”
In China, discovery and purchasing are integrated, whereas in the West, they are separate. So what does it mean? Chinese consumers do not separate the blog post, photos, videos and live streaming they see from Chinese social media from purchase as heavily as the Western consumers do. For instance, they may see an item they like on social media, in a music video, in an online fashion show, in a makeup tutorial, oon a news site, or asking friends and family recommendation on Chinese social media. That means, Chinese consumers discover new brands and products through an array of digital channels and content, rather than jumping straight to the online store to close the transaction.
“China’s integrated digital platforms enable this content-led discovery. Even though many of the engaging online channels are not overtly related to shopping, if Chinese consumers see something they like, they can buy it immediately through embedded purchase links. As a result, the path from discovery to purchase is seamless. These instant “buy what you see” opportunities take product placement and ease of purchasing to the next level—one not yet seen in Western markets.”
In the West, “Consumers typically go to an online retailer, such as Amazon, or a company’s website with a specific item in mind. Category details—such as product, style, color, and size—help buyers drill down and narrow their search. The payment page is automatically filled with personal details to speed the transaction. Mission accomplished! The online shopping experience is fast, smooth, and easy.”
- In China, creatively using content and multimedia is an integral part of e-commerce and brand building.
- Developing a “localized” Chinese social e-commerce business. It is important to develop a “localized” Chinese Social commerce requires creating Chinese social media content—such as online events or celebrity-hosted tutorials—that can generate buzz, live conversations, brand recommendations, and sales.
- Add localized Chinese functionality in your Chinese localized e-commerce site/mobile app/WeChat accounts such as see-now, buy-now functionality to make the path from discovery to purchase more seamless.
- Use data and analytics to customize the shopping journey on a deeper level. For instance, merchants could offer different pathways for different needs: automatic replenishment for basic items, social media for major purchase decisions, live shows for splurges, and so fort
Want to know the secret source to develop a “localized” Chinese social e-commerce content that fit the pop-culture and context for more than 1.3 billion Chinese consumers? Get in touch with Red Digital China for a free consultation! (Note: Please make sure you fill in your company name, full name, email address, mobile, and company website) or you can click Red Digital China website to fill in a contact form to book us a Free section!)
Over the past eight years, Sarah has led and executed successful digital campaigns for a range of international and local companies in China, Hong Kong and internationally, including: Hong Kong Ocean Park, agnes b, Volkswagen, Premium Tax Free – Watches of Switzerland and Damiani. She has worked with property, travel and hospitality, luxury and fashion clients. As a native Chinese speaker fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, Sarah is also a popular Chinese lifestyle, fashion and travel blogger.
During the day, she was working for Red Digital China, during the night, she expands her interest in creating story-telling content, design, drawing etc.