Executives seeing success in their current ecommerce strategy view China as the next step to increase their profitability. When you look at the numbers, it is easy to understand the logic—the U.S. currently has a 22% ecommerce penetration rate, while China sits at around 50%. And when you consider that China’s population is 4 times that of the U.S., you can begin to understand the magnitude of the opportunity. It has the largest digital buyer population in the world, and in 2021, China contributed to over half of the world’s ecommerce retail sales.
It’s clear that achieving next level ecommerce success might require a brand presence in China, and, if you’re prepared to make a long-term investment in growing your product presence and sales globally, expanding into China can be a great move.
As you think about growing globally, brands typically find greater success when they have a partner guiding them through the process. As the expert in ecommerce acceleration, Pattern has the global resources and local market expertise necessary to make a successful transition into new marketplaces, including China. Partnering with Pattern means your brand has access to our global network of fulfillment services and logistics, top-level data analysts and insights, proprietary technology, and local experts to help with in-market regulations and customs laws—we can help you execute a profitable, long-term strategy tailored for your brand.
Most brands think of expanding into China as a quick way to boost their product sales, or something they can experiment with for short-term gains. This may be somewhat true when expanding into new domestic markets, but expanding into China requires a much bigger commitment and many more resources than brands usually expect.
Almost every brand that Pattern launches in China finds success on Tmall, Alibaba and other marketplaces, but starting with the right mindset is key to their performance. We like to ask brands, “Are you willing to lose money for the next five years in order to expand to China?”
This certainly isn’t the standard timeframe that most brands experience, but it helps leaders understand that this move is about long-term strategy, rather than short-term wins. It takes a huge effort in acquiring resources, establishing a solid strategy, and staying persistent over time to really see improvement in your profits.
Pattern’s local market experts provide brands with additional, crucial insights you’ll need to factor in as well, like understanding regulatory and customs costs, multimedia resources you’ll need for China-specific listings, product filing needs for your brand, and other hidden fees you haven’t considered yet.
It’s easy to get excited about the profit potential in China, but the size of the opportunity also signifies the difficulty in taking advantage of it—the competitive landscape of ecommerce in China is much larger and more intense than it is domestically. It’s hard enough to compete in U.S. ecommerce when you’re on the second page of Amazon. How do you compete when you’re showing up on the 200th page of Tmall?
Every brand must do its research. You’ll need to know things like: which comparable products already exist in China? Is your product already manufactured or sold there? Is there demand for this product? How does your product work with the cultural nuances of China vs the U.S.? What is your pricing strategy and promotional expectations?
Another big consideration is the dynamics of the products you’re trying to sell. For instance, many people don’t understand that most buyers in China don’t trust ecommerce sellers. There’s a huge amount of fake items, so every product you sell needs to have an authentic and informed customer service touchpoint. If you’re not prepared to provide the manpower and resources to execute exceptional customer service, implementing that support late in the game can be a big setback to your successful expansion.
Once you’ve done your research to understand the dynamics of your product in China and how it fits into the landscape, you’ll have to develop a solid activation strategy for going forward, both on- and offline.
The sheer volume of transactions in the China marketplace and the number of products available makes succeeding there much trickier than on U.S. marketplaces. Brands typically have a much harder time achieving consistent performance in China, especially if they’re already struggling with getting product to perform well domestically. So, before you expand to China, you’ll need to have a clear, foolproof online strategy for advertising, product listings, optimizations, and more to guide you on your way
An offline activation strategy is a must, too. For instance, the cost and hassle of distributing your products in China can be a big surprise to brands. In order to get product into China, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to establish domestic representation, which means working with a trading partner (which has its own additional costs), or using the cross-border distribution method, which requires setting up an expensive flagship Tmall store in China.
Your offline strategy also needs to include ways to introduce your products to consumers so they can physically interact with them to continue building trust with your brand and expanding your customer base. Pattern helps our partners to achieve this with product placement opportunities at in-person events, brick and mortar stores, and other locations.
Another consideration: it’s smart to avoid working with a Chinese trading partner as you expand to help you stay in control of your brand. Pattern’s brand partnership approach involves buying your inventory and managing all the logistics necessary to get your product into market and, ultimately, in the hands of your consumers.
Expanding to China marketplaces is a great idea for brands looking to take their ecommerce success to new heights. If you’re prepared to make the investment, you’ve done the necessary market research for all aspects of your product’s performance, and you have a great activation strategy in place for both online and offline success, you’ll be set to take advantage of the huge opportunity with Chinese consumers.
As a Pattern partner, you can access our extensive expertise and resources to succeed both domestically and internationally. We have an established presence in China (with over 150 employees, 3 offices, and our own audit warehouses) and teams of highly experienced global experts to help your products perform their best and increase profitability for your brand as a whole.
Contact us to learn how we can establish or improve your business on a global scale.
Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.