Three Lessons for Successful E-commerce in China

I am often asked, “What are you guys learning about selling online in China?” We’re learning so much, it’s hard to know where to start, so there are a few things I’d like to share with you that can help you be more efficient and effective with e-commerce in China.


1. Prepare for lots of pre-sale support

First, China is a low trust society. How does that translate into how we interface with customers online through our customer service agents? While what we know from the statistics is that one in ten people in more developed Western countries, where there is a much higher degree of trust, are need to interact with a customer service person through live chat, emails, or a phone call.

But in China, and in other developing countries where there is a lower level of trust, it’s actually 8 or 9 out of ten.

Often times, our customer service people are answering questions like, “What’s the return policy, what if I don’t like the product, how do I use the product, is there anybody that can help me with service in China after I buy the product?” These are not difficult questions, but we have to be ready with customer service people who are live and ready to reply to questions right away.

E-Commerce Differences in China from Christina Li on Vimeo.

2. Payment methods you’ve never heard of

Another thing we found which is quite interesting is that these traditional payment methods that we have in the West, like credit cards, are not that popular in China. So the way people most often prefer to pay in China is using Alipay or WeChat.   So we want to make sure it’s easy for the customer that they have options that they are comfortable with, and most often times that translates into something that may not be as familiar in the West. So Alipay and Wechat are payment methods that are critical to add so you can build that trust and meet the customer where they are most likely to make a purchase.

3. Know the right platforms

Finally, another thing that is quite interesting is the platforms that we are used to in the West like just don’t have the same foothold in China.  Amazon in China actually has a very small percentage of the total market. We are talking about single digit, and low single digit, market share. The names that you might not be as familiar with like Taobao and TMall, and a host of others like, Suning, etc. – are less known to Western companies, but they are very big platforms in China. Getting your products on these platforms is another critical step to help grow your e-commerce success in China.

Ready to drive growth and sell your solutions via e-commerce in China? Contact us and let’s get started.

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