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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Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS
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Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS

The purpose of advertising on Amazon is simple: increase traffic and conversions. But the approach to get those conversions is not always so simple. Your Amazon advertising strategy is based on current ad data and performance results such as your return on ad spend (RoAS). 

At a minimum, your RoAS number tells you how well you’re maximizing your ad spend. The problem is the RoAS you’re getting from Amazon or an advertising agency isn’t always accurate. 

As a top 3P seller on Amazon, Pattern helps brands improve their Amazon advertising strategy and results by providing them with one simple metric: true RoAS.

Understanding True RoAS

To understand why true RoAS is helpful to brands, you need to understand how Amazon and other agencies calculate and present your RoAS.

The key to growing your brand and maximizing your ad spend is to drive incremental traffic, rather than cannibalizing what has already taken place. For example, if you are selling probiotics, and paying for sponsored ads to win the keyword “probiotics for women”, but also organically ranked in the top results with the same keyword, that’s cannibalization. The RoAS score you would receive from Amazon includes that level of cannibalism, which inflates the number, causing you to pay more on ad spend. The best ads drive incremental growth instead of cannibalizing organic sales. 

At Pattern, we’ve created the acceleration software to make sure brands are getting their “true RoAS”. Pattern’s patented tool applies artificial intelligence to advertising to maximize incremental growth or true return on investment. 

Our software helps brands optimize their efforts by providing live and updated information on where your brand is not organically ranking, and what you should be paying for. If your ranking improves in one area, the ad spend will automatically decrease for those words or phrases until the software detects a drop in ranking, signaling that your ad spend should go up again. This dynamic monitoring of ad spend will help you maximize incremental growth and improve your RoAS.

Improve Your Amazon Ad Strategy with Pattern

Knowing your true RoAS is key to improving your Amazon performance. Advertising agencies and marketplace account managers often give you an inaccurate RoAS ratio or value, which only incentivizes you to spend more on advertising, ultimately increasing revenue for the agencies and/or marketplaces.

At Pattern, a 3P partner on Amazon and other marketplaces, we view our brands just as that: a partnership. When you win, we win. You succeed on Amazon by maximizing your ad spend and we have the data and resources to help you do just that. Accurate, transparent data and reporting will help improve your advertising strategy to drive more traffic to and conversions on your products. 

Ready to finally get your true RoAS? Contact us.   

Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears
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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears

**Instrument Pricing Changes Tune Amid Record Inflation** Compared to 2022, consumers should expect to pay more for musical instruments, but the rate of inflation shows signs of slowing. **The backstory:** America’s most popular musical instruments saw a notable price increase in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rate of inflation eased in Q4 ’22. **Why it matters:** Slowing inflation within this product category could indicate economic pressures like increased demand, rising labor costs, and supply chain disruptions are easing across the consumer landscape. **What we’re seeing:** The average cost of musical instruments increased 7.5% from 2021 – 2022; however, when analyzing individual increases year over year, some instruments saw price increases as high as 21%. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-02Lwk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/02Lwk/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones experienced a 21.73% increase compared to 2021 * Trumpets +20.08% * Flutes +18.6% * Recorders +16.13% * Saxophones +13.63% * Clarinets +10.55% * Drums +5.41% * Ukuleles +5.17% **However:** Inflation among these same instruments was significantly less in Q4 ’22 compared to Q4 ’21. In some cases, prices decreased from Q4 ’21 – Q4 ‘22: <iframe title="Price Change for Instruments — Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-6X6GZ" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6X6GZ/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones +11.23% * Flutes +10.41% * Saxophones +5.94% * Clarinets +5.59% * Trumpets +3.10% * Recorders +2.85% * Drums -2.59% * Ukuleles -8.46% **Moreover:** Certain instruments saw inflation reverse in 2022. On average, prices for melodicas, guitars, and violas saw their prices decrease by 4.41%, 3.19%, and 0.97%, respectively. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-0Tefk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0Tefk/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="259" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Diving Deeper:** Inflation was more significant when comparing Q4 ’21 to Q4 ’20 than when comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, indicating a slowing down of price increases for consumers. <iframe title="YOY Q4 Price Change for Instruments — 2020 – 2022" aria-label="Stacked Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-p6iqt" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/p6iqt/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="206" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * In Q4 ’21, average prices for all instruments were up 8.89% compared to Q4 ’20. * When comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, the average price for all instruments only increased by 2.65%. **The takeaway:** While consumers should expect to pay higher prices for instruments this year, overall inflation impact within this product category appears to be slowing down. With National Ukulele Day coming up on February 2, now is a great time for ecommerce brands to take advantage of slowing economic worries and reach new consumers. * Want Pattern’s data science team to power your brand with consumer insights like these? Contact us to [request more information](https://pattern.com/contact-us/) today.

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us
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Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us

It’s safe to say consumers and brands alike are eager for a change to the pattern of rising inflation, steadily increasing in many ecommerce categories . Pattern’s internal team’s data scientists analysis of instrument pricing shows a glimmer of hope that inflation may be slowing, which would be great news for brands selling online.

At Pattern, we’re interested in and monitoring trends and news related to pricing since price is a key factor in a brand’s profitability (as explained in the Ecommerce Equation). When brands are able to optimize their price, conversions, and traffic, they can optimize their profitability. And profitability leads to better allocation of resources, better brand control, and gives leaders the ability to expand their presence to new markets worldwide.

YoY Instrument Pricing Increased at a Slower Pace

When analyzing the pricing changes of instruments from 2021 to 2022, our teams found that prices increased, but at a slower rate than from 2020 to 2021.

As shown below, the year over year Q4 changes show quite a lower rate of increase.

Inflation Improvements Raise Profitability

Because inflation impacts online shopping behaviors, lower inflation can lead to better overall profitability for brands. This idea, of course, is nuanced, but Pattern’s Ecommerce Equation can help illustrate the general principle.

When inflation rises, consumers change their spending habits. Shoppers spend more time researching products, forego premium, higher-priced brands, and buy more in bulk. Brands tend to see a loss of loyalty as they’re forced to raise prices.

Price is a key variable in the Ecommerce Equation: price x conversion x traffic = profitability. As inflation lowers, brands can expect better performance in all of these areas—more traffic as spending habits return to normal, higher conversion from returning customers, and price that better fits consumer demand. As inflation lowers and these variables stabilize, brands will see profitability increase.

Raise Your Profitability with Pattern

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern is obsessed with gathering data that helps our brand partners succeed. We’ve created best-in-class technology, models, and analytics to understand changes on the horizon and inform our decisions. With an incredible team of data obsessed Pattern employees, we see what makes the difference in truly great ecommerce performance and apply those learnings for brand partners. 

Ready to improve your profitability? Contact us here.