5 Things to Look for in a China Trade Partner

Rachel Olsen

July 26, 2022

If you’re succeeding on domestic ecommerce marketplaces, you’re likely looking for a new opportunity to help expand your brand's reach and stay competitive long-term. Entering China is a smart move if you’re a Western brand because you will have some advantages—Chinese consumers show special interest in high-quality foreign products and their brands often find it easier to build trust as a foreign seller.

It’s an exciting prospect to consider, but taking your products to China is no small feat. Many brands mistake the move as akin to entering a new domestic market or a new Amazon region. In truth, the experience is very different—there’s so much to learn before you start, like the nuances between different marketplaces, cultural practices you’ll need to adhere to, rules and regulations to follow…the list goes on.

For this reason, all brands expanding to China on any marketplace need to have a trade partner (or TP) to guide them through the process. But, it’s hard to find a TP you fully trust and will drive the best results for your brand. Partnering with an ecommerce accelerator like Pattern is an effective way to make sure you have what you need to be profitable on global marketplaces. We help brands gain all the global resources, marketplace logistics and administrative information, and cultural knowledge necessary to get your brand and products into China marketplaces the right way. 

5 Essentials for a China Trade Partner

1. Experience

Any brand looking to enter China needs specialized knowledge and expertise to do it well. China is a much bigger market than what brands are used to—owning 50% of the world’s transactions. There are also many more competitors and unique obstacles to overcome. If you’re not prepared, things like the need for a physical presence in China, a strategy for in-person product interactions, getting the right resources for customer support and human touch points in the buyer’s journey, and determining the right distribution model can overwhelm your strategy.

For these reasons, you need to have experts on your side with the right mindset. Any TP you choose should understand the difficulties associated with launching in China and the fact that a long-term mindset is the only way you’ll succeed.

To find a TP with the right experience, they should satisfactorily answer questions like:

  • Have you sold in my product’s category before?

  • Do you have the right background to know how my products will fit their target marketplaces before we launch?

Pattern helps a wide range of brands enter China markets. We know what it takes to succeed, and we have all of the knowledge and expertise you’ll need to make educated decisions about when and how to expand your brand to China marketplaces. 

2. Transparency

Especially for brands that are unfamiliar with the nuances of China marketplaces, it’s imperative to understand how and where your products are being sold. A lack of transparency is the most common complaint we hear from brands entering the China ecommerce landscape. 

In many cases, brands will pay their trade partner and then, without receiving any concrete information or documentation, assume their brand and products are well-represented. It’s fairly rare to see a TP that will provide access to warehouses, clear and accurate reports, and other hard evidence of your products’ performance

We encourage you to find a trade partner who stands out from the crowd—someone who is willing to be transparent in all aspects of their partnership with you. A great first step is watching for what they’re willing to disclose while you’re considering your partnership. Such as:

  • Have they been successful with other brands?

  • Who else are they working with?

  • Do they sell products that could compete with yours on the same marketplaces? 

Trade partners have a reputation for shielding their brands from information and details, but that doesn’t have to be a reality in your relationship. As you move forward in your decision making, transparency and accountability should be a large factor in choosing the right trade partner.

3. Data-Driven Mindset

A lack of data is another common issue with trade partners that goes hand-in-hand with transparency. Brands are typically unsure of the true performance of their products on Chinese marketplaces because their trade partners don’t provide them with specific data about their products’ performance and sales.

You can imagine the difficulties this creates—a TP may have many things to say anecdotally about your sales, but brands are shielded from the true numbers or an ability to access reporting. It’s harder for brands to be involved in their ecommerce strategy, make decisions, forecast, and grow their presence in China without clearly, concretely understanding what’s really going on.

Data powers everything we do at Pattern. As a certified TP, we share insights and brand performance with our partners and provide brands with access to proprietary dashboards to review their data to stay in the know about what’s going on with their products.

4. Brand Obsessed

To get the best results from your China presence, it’s best to make sure your trade partner truly has your brand’s best interests at heart. But unfortunately for many brands, trade partners’ profits can take precedence over their brands’ success. Brand obsession can be tricky to discern, though, especially when you’re limited in getting to know your trade partner by distance and conflicting time zones. 

One way you can gauge your trade partner’s true loyalty to your brand is by paying close attention to how they’re paid. Product sales commissions are typically part of trade partners’ revenue model, but if they only represent a small portion of your partners’ earnings, you may want to think about looking at other options. You’ll know that your potential TP, if they’re transparent and data-driven, really wants you to succeed if they’ll put their earnings on the line to prioritize your profitability.

At Pattern, your success is our success. We structure our revenue model to be margin-based, which means, we aren’t paid until you are. We truly want the best for our brands and are fully committed to building healthy, long-term growth for your products throughout global marketplaces.

5. All-in-One Solution

Lastly, your trade partner should be well-equipped to serve you in whatever your brand needs to succeed. This means they should have all of the necessary functions to execute a holistic ecommerce strategy. If you need to hire a TP for your social media strategy, another to handle distribution, and another to manage your listings, you’re likely not getting the right value for your partnership. Instead, you should find a solution that has the complete set of resources to do it all.

When you find a true China ecommerce expert, they’ll have both the resources and know-how to execute the right overall strategy for your brand. They should be able to help you with the research and planning phases of your China launch as well as recommend and implement the best ways to help you grow in the right marketplaces for you.

Grow on Global Marketplaces with Pattern

As the world’s foremost ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can handle your end-to-end strategy to grow your brand both domestically and internationally. Pattern is an option to be your brand's trading partner since we know local languages, customs, and cultural nuances to clearly communicate your brand as we plan, strategize, and execute your products’ success in China. We make your success our business, dedicating expert teams, years of experience, and proprietary technology to find the best ways to take your products to consumers throughout the world.

Discover how Pattern can be your trading partner. Schedule a call with us here.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 26, 2022

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.

Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)