How do you sell in China’s huge online market? The one with the largest single market of social network users on the planet. At the end of 2018, over 650 million people in China used social networks. This is more than double the USA and the UK combined. The good news…This economy still has a lot of room to grow.
How Is Selling Online In China Different?
Because of the Great Firewall blocks most Western social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, social networking in China is very different from the of the rest of the world. But with so many users, and a whopping 800 million users expected by 2023, it’s a marketplace that any foreign businesses should absolutely tap into. But be aware, sooner is better than later…
Which Platforms Should I Sell On In China?
With so many different social network platforms used in China, selling online in the PRC can seem scary. Which platforms should you be promoting your business on? How do you use the platforms to sell your products? What are all these odd names? We’re not going to deal with all of them – just the most important one: WeChat. Let’s deal with the most effective strategy for businesses getting online in China, “social selling”.
Using WeChat to promote social selling in China is crucial
to grow your business and penetrate the market.
But why is WeChat is the social network you can’t live without…?
Social Selling in China – Unlock The Door
Social selling is all about using social media networks to reach new customers, engage potential buyers, and convert those leads to clients. Building relationships via WeChat in China allows you to do that far better than any other platform. With over one billion active users per month, WeChat is by far the largest social network in China.
If you’re selling products to a Chinese market, you’ve probably heard of Taobao, Tmall, and JD.com. These online e-commerce platforms dominate the market. A Mandarin-language site is useful, but Chinese consumers simply don’t access websites in the same way most people do. You need to be visible on e-commerce platforms, or, as we’ll see below, WeChat.
Taobao Or Tmall Or JD.com?
There are a number of e-commerce platforms in China, but the big three are Taobao, Tmall, and Jingdong (JD). Owned by the Alibaba Group, Taobao and Tmall are the largest, with market dominance only now beginning to be challenged by Tencent’s JD.
An Overview Of The Main Chinese Online Sales Platforms…
Taobao is Alibaba’s version of eBay – a similar kind of platform that allows small businesses and individual sellers a commission-free space to list their products. With over 800 million products listed, Taobao is one of China’s largest online marketplaces, and a great place to start for small businesses.
Part of Alibaba as well, Tmall is more like Amazon. It’s a place for brands, for B2C sellers, and is often the go-to for international sellers in China. And, with 55% of the e-commerce market share, it’s not hard to see why. As a more professional marketplace, however, the barriers to entry are higher. Sellers on Tmall need to prove they own the brand in order to sell.
Finally, Tencent’s Jingdong/ JD is another B2C platform, rapidly rising within China to take on Tmall. JD sources non-counterfeit products straight from the suppliers. It built its brand on high-quality, reliable sellers delivering direct to customers.
Tmall and JD definitely offer foreign brands a door into the ever-growing market of Chinese consumers, with a 50% and 25% stake, respectively, in the 500 million monthly users of Chinese e-commerce platforms. With just a standalone website, for instance, e-commerce sites you simply can’t compete with these two giants. Without a pre-existing brand presence, Chinese consumers will probably never know you exist.
Why Not Use These Platforms To Kick Off Your Chinese Sales Campaign?
That’s the thing: we’re not saying don’t use them. These platforms are large and powerful. The problem is that WeChat is the only useful tool for breaking into the market – and doing so in a cost-effective way.
Tmall and JD are great for larger overseas companies, but there are a few drawbacks. Firstly, you need a Chinese partner or be registered as a Chinese entity to use these platforms. Because of the huge volume of online sellers already on there, you will find it tough to break in as a new brand.
Because of the way that the platforms are set up, you have to bid for your leads. This means if someone is already established in this shop front, you are going to have to invest big and early, in order to compete. This is often expensive and has risks associated for your business.
Why WeChat And Social Selling Are Your Solutions in China
WeChat is China’s all-in-one ecosphere. It is basically China’s number 1 “ internet on your phone”.
From social selling to social networking, this one app does it all. Why use it to promote social selling for your business? Because it’s easy, has no barrier to entry, and you have the all-important control over your brand.
WeChat offers two distinct features that allow you to leverage social selling in China easily and quickly. The first is a WeChat Store, the second, a WeChat Mini Program. Let’s look into these two more and how they can help you utilize social selling in the Chinese market place.
Take Advantage Of WeChat Shops
WeChat shops are an easy way to sell online in China. And, because they’re part of the omnipresent WeChat, it gives you a foot in the door of social selling in China instantly. Learn more about the specifics of setting up a WeChat shop in our dedicated article.
In general, WeChat stores can be a simple way of maintaining your brand and ability to reach Chinese audiences without a lot of overhead or investment. While some WeChat stores require a subscription to set up, most can be created for free. The great news is, you don’t need to develop anything new, and there’s no bidding or Chinese partner needed.
Understand And Use WeChat Mini Programs
Another great, although slightly more complicated platform for social selling in China is the WeChat mini program. These mini-programs are mini-apps- small-scale, streamlined versions of native applications that you can develop and tailor to your needs. They allow you to create your own <10MB version of a phone application, all within the WeChat app itself. This keeps your clients in an ecosystem they know and love and allows you to connect your brand and products to a WeChat account and payment easily.
Overall, what WeChat offers you is a simple way to bolster your Chinese sales machine. With over one billion active users a month, WeChat is a bigger platform than both Tmall and JD. Within WeChat, you completely own your own brand — there are no other brands you’re competing with once your clients are in your store or mini program. It is much more like having your own real estate on the Chinese internet – like a website! Most of the time, the barrier to entry is very low, and there is no bidding war for leads.
Putting all these benefits together -you have a simple and easy way to reach a whole lot of people at once. You can create your own advertisements, send notifications and special deals directly to customers. You are in total control of all your own promotions. Social selling doesn’t come much easier than within the biggest social network in China that is WeChat.
So the message is simple. If you want to take your first step into China mainland e-commerce, you need to prioritise making a start on your WeChat presence and get in some early sales. Need some more info? Learn about more about the ecosystem in China and WeChat Mini Programs For Business.