Keys to Ecommerce Growth in China: Pattern Success Stories & Best Practices

George Hatch

July 27, 2020

China. It’s the next frontier for many U.S. ecommerce brands. It’s also a giant question mark: How?

“If you talk to U.S. brands very long, you start realizing one of the more compelling pieces to them is, ‘How can I move my product internationally?’ and China always comes up,” said Pattern’s Co-Founder and CEO, David Wright.

There are many unknowns for brands newly considering China, such as shipping and marketing logistics and establishing brand recognition. The exciting thing is that brands willing to do the work are finding lots of success selling in China. Pattern brands that have moved their business into China have seen their sales double, and it’s not an unrealistic number.

So what is the secret? How are brands finding success and growth in China?

Here are a few Pattern brands that have found successful growth in the country and what they’ve done to get there.

China Case Study: Thorne building Tmall from the ground up

Thorne Research is a U.S. healthcare and supplements company that wanted to expand their reach into the China market. In September 2019, with Pattern’s help, Thorne successfully launched a Tmall Global flagship store (similar to Amazon, Tmall is a platform for Chinese and international businesses to sell brand name goods to consumers) and was able to establish brand recognition in the country.

Since its launch on Tmall, Thorne has achieved a month on month growth of over 100% each month. China is now its second largest market after the U.S., and in six months, Thorne’s store ranking jumped from Tier One to Tier Four, putting it in the top 15% of supplement stores on the Chinese market.

How did Thorne win big in China?

Two of the key elements of Thorne’s success were to have a local team on the ground establishing on and offline brand partnerships and to leverage multi-channel marketing to their advantage.

Launch event

Thorne was welcomed into China with a sponsored Launch Event featuring well-known Chinese athletes in partnership with the brand as well as social media influencers and media invited to cover the event. The Baidu search index (Baidu is China’s largest search engine) for Thorne recorded 27% YOY growth attributed to the launch event.

Chinese Influencer marketing success story | Pattern

Read more about Thorne’s success in China here.

Chinese social media marketing and ecommerce platforms

Just as U.S. brands do on U.S.-based social media platforms, Thorne created a presence on Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and RED to raise awareness through their official accounts. Thorne has continued to establish brand awareness on social media by engaging and partnering with key opinion leaders and consumers in a micro-influencer/ambassador type relationship.

China social media marketing for ecommerce | Pattern

Live-stream shopping

Thorne’s daily sales have increased by 27% due to regular, 3-hour long live casts on their Tmall store that are customized to each demographic of customer. Visitors can access the videos through four different channels: a live casting channel, the store homepage, Weitao (the built-in social media platform for Taobao and Tmall), and AI referral. They can also get exclusive vouchers through these channels.

Chinese livestreaming sales success story | Pattern

Partnerships

One thing that has worked really well for Thorne’s products is for the brand to partner with hospitals and clinics by creating OOH marketing, get their name dropped in healthcare seminars, and partner with offline and online doctors who can make recommendations and help increase brand recognition.

In addition to partnerships for marketing, Thorne collaborated with health management institutions with a large demand for food supplements. B2B2C sales now contribute to about 33% of Thorne’s total sales volume.

China Case Study: Jewelry brand expanding global footprint

This jewelry brand partner has a global footprint across 100 countries and €2.7 billion turnover. While they were well-represented in the Asia Pacific region with physical stores, they didn’t have an ecommerce presence in China.

Pattern developed a digital roadmap for the brand that included a two-pronged strategy for direct and marketplace sales in China, and they offered support during the brand’s site roll-outs in each market.

Following the launch of this brand’s Tmall site, their Chinese sales rose 120% year on year, and China now comprises 30% of the total Asia Pacifc sales for the brand. The brand has been so successful that they’re working with Pattern to establish a similar presence in the Europe and Middle East and North Africa regions.

China Case Study: Skechers building a D2C site

Skechers is a brand that already had an established presence in China and was experiencing much success across Asia, including on Tmall, when they were presented with the opportunity to grow their business further through a D2C digital channel. This channel would serve their customers better and engage them more.

Armed with Pattern analysts and ecommerce consultants that helped the brand access in-market technology and project management and advisory services, Skechers was able to select a system integrator for China, facilitate successful partnerships that helped their brand grow, and in 2018-2019, experience a YOY sales growth of 12% on their D2C site. Skechers currently has one of the biggest D2C sites in China.

Read more about Skechers’ success in China here.

What these brands have in common

Each of our brands that have found success in China have worked with Pattern’s local, on-the-ground team that knows both the country and the language well.

Local teams know exactly which multi-channel markets will lead to the greatest growth and success for your brand. They’re also able to establish partnerships with the right people and organizations to raise brand awareness.

According to Arthur Cheung, China General Manager for Pattern’s global digital consultancy arm, local teams diligently experiment with and test each ecosystem to see what strategies work best for which consumers. When it comes to social media, they help your brand cover the whole platform, partnering with 50-100 key opinion customers and content developers who can make sure that when customers look for your products, they find them.

With the help of local teams, Pattern brands across the board have experienced an average growth rate of 170%, Cheung said.

How Pattern is helping brands succeed in China

Through our local teams in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, Pattern provides brands with the resources they need to truly succeed in the Chinese market. This includes professional consultations, guidance through cultural, consumer, and trading nuances, and diversified partnerships that fit your brand.

Our team will analyze your overall ecommerce data, your competitors, and the opportunities available for your brand in the area. They’ll also give you the support you’ll need to have a successful launch.

To learn more about how Pattern can help your brand find success in China and Asia markets, reach out to our Pattern team below.

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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

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

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. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

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.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

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. 

2. Proven Results

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.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

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.

4. Network of Resources

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.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

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.