The China Opportunity

Misha Pabari

June 15, 2021

Ecommerce has come a long way in China in a decade, and Chinese online shoppers should be considered among the most sophisticated in the world. In this blog we outline the opportunity for US brands who are looking to expand into China and grow their sales in one of the world’s largest international markets.

A snapshot of China’s growing economy

China’s growing economy provides a huge opportunity for brands looking to expand into new markets, and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, online sales of consumer goods rose by 14.8% in 2020 according to official figures, now making up about one-quarter of total retail sales. With a rising population who are accustomed to shopping online, even the Chinese government has put in place plans to target further GDP growth of more than 6% in 2021.

Chinese ecommerce is dominated by three big players Alibaba–which runs Tmall, Tmall Global, and Taobao–JD.com, and newer entrant Pinduoduo. In addition to this, smaller specialist marketplaces have sprung up to be expert in particular product categories, and larger brands tend to have a Chinese direct-to-consumer site as well.

China Statistics

Tmall’s worldwide reach

Boasting 779 million annual active consumers in China in 2020 alone, Tmall–owned by parent company Alibaba–has been able to retain the top position for share of Chinese ecommerce sales with its constant focus on innovation and improvement. With circa 60% market share in China, the marketplace acts as a first port of call when searching for products and product content.

The domestic and cross-border versions of Tmall are both available to Western brands. Those with a business entity in China can use the domestic version of the marketplace. Those without a local entity are encouraged to use Tmall Global and trade cross-border.

Tmall Statistics

Selling cross-border on Tmall Global

At the height of pandemic lockdowns across the globe last year, many brands rethought their ecommerce approach and turned to China, a resilient market post-coronavirus and a driver of global consumption. Tmall has worked hard to add brands and merchants to the cross-border platform as a pull for more users, and during 2020 the number of brands trading on the platform increased by 60%.

To support this growth, Alibaba has created several initiatives to help brands pick up the pace of digital transformation in the market. Alibaba has created warehousing in Western markets so brands trading cross-border can store their product at home–and Tmall exports the product to China when the order is placed. For new brands starting out, this can be cheaper than arranging warehousing for cross-border orders in Hong Kong, and will also likely mean orders are received more quickly than if the brand is shipping orders from its home market to Chinese consumers itself.

Learn more about how to successfully grow your business in the China market

China’s scale and willingness to embrace online shopping makes it an attractive market to expand to for USA and UK brands. While this is true, there can also be reasons why this market may be difficult to crack. Entering China requires significant investment in brand awareness and acquisition marketing, as well as a willingness to take a longer-term view on breaking even.

In our upcoming webinar, we’ll discuss key components to prepare for branching into the China market, launching onto Tmall, marketing techniques on both Tmall and other external drivers, trading and marketing KPIs, and finding the right trade partner.

Throughout the webinar there will be opportunities to ask any questions you have regarding growing your business in the China market, launching on Tmall, and other questions around going international.

To learn more, Register Now for our webinar: Accelerate Your International Presence–China, or request a demo and get started today.

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1P vs 3P
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Amazon 1P vs. 3P: Pros & Cons Brands Need to Know

Whether you’ve been selling your products on Amazon for years or you’re just starting out, you’ve probably wondered if 1P or 3P is the best selling model for your brand. As the top ecommerce accelerator, and 3P seller, with deep experience on Amazon, we know there’s no “best way” to sell on Amazon—it depends on your products, long-term goals, and  capabilities. 

In a 1P, or first-party relationship, Amazon buys your product wholesale and handles most of the selling details. In a 3P, or third-party relationship, you’re an independent seller on Amazon’s marketplace, which gives you both more control over your brand and more responsibility for logistics.

Deciding between 1P and 3P requires weighing the various pros and cons for your business. Brands should consider several factors before choosing which strategy makes sense. Here is more information about the pros and cons of both 1P and 3P so you can make the best decision for your brand.

1P Pros and Cons 

Pros:

  • Amazon is a well-trusted brand and consumers may trust your brand more if it is sold by Amazon.

  • Your products are automatically eligible for Amazon Prime and two-day shipping.

  • Amazon handles all the logistics: taxes, ASIN, optimization, and customer service.

  • Amazon gives exclusive benefits, such as placement priority and advanced analytics tools, to 1P sellers.

  • Selling your products through Amazon 1P could be the most price efficient option for your brand.

  • You are basically free of inventory risk.

Cons:

  • Amazon has the control to sell your product at any price they see fit, even if it’s below your established Minimum Advertising Price (MAP).

  • You may lose profit margins.

  • Amazon will pay you less frequently than a 3P relationship.

  • You will have little control over availability of inventory on Amazon at any given time.

  • Amazon can drop you as a 1P seller at any time.

Many brands choose to sell on Amazon in a 1P relationship so they do not have to manage most of the logistics and simply prefer Amazon to do it.. In addition, having  a well-trusted brand sell your product is another top consideration in a 1P seller relationship.. 

3P Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Gives you more flexibility and control in every aspect of the selling process.

  • Strengthens your brand presence.

  • Helps you gain better access to data.

  • Provides more control in the selling process (pricing, inventory, and product listings).

  • Offers complete control over how much inventory to list.

  • You can share inventory across marketplaces, when necessary.

  • Creative control to  develop listings with better optimized content to tell your brand story.

Cons:

  • Inventory risks.

  • Responsible to create purchase orders and handling inventory logistics.

  • You are responsible for your own customer service.

  • Brand must pay additional fees to Amazon for being a 3P seller.

  • Can be subject to account suspension.

Selling on Amazon in a 3P relationship  is an increasingly popular option for brands, and it’s easy to see why. Even though becoming a 3P seller may seem like more work upfront, it ultimately gives you more flexibility and control, a stronger brand presence, and better data access.

How Do I Become an Amazon 1P or 3P Seller?

You can only become a 1P seller through a direct invitation from Amazon. To become a 3P seller, the first step is setting up a Seller Central account. You’ll then provide relevant information and verifications before getting your account approved and finally listing and shipping your products. 

3P Partners and Other Selling Model Strategies

While deciding between a 1P or 3P relationship is a solid start, selling model strategy is a bit more complicated than that. In fact, there are 7 common selling models brands may consider. Two of these models are the basic 1P and 3P models we’ve already discussed. 

Other models include the following:

  • 3P Unmanaged: no active management of your brand

  • 2P: Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) model

  • Hybrid: leverages both 1P and 3P strategies

  • 3P Network: you create a network of authorized sellers

  • 3P Partner: you partner with one exclusive ecommerce seller

Pattern Proves the 3P Partner Model Works for Brands

In our experience, the ecommerce executives benefit most from a 3P partner model because it provides the most freedom and marketplace control on Amazon, without having to worry about complex logistics. Pattern executes  a 3P exclusive seller model because it gives our partners  the freedom and control unavailable through a 1P relationship, while also taking on the stock, management, and risks that make 3P selling intimidating.

With Pattern as your authorized wholesale partner, we buy your stock and resell the products on Amazon as an authorized seller. Once we buy your product, we’re responsible for all inventory risk, and help you optimize your content and advertising while maximizing your brand protection and brand global distribution. Our sophisticated inventory forecasting, fulfillment, and logistics systems help us predict and manage your inventory, and our experienced teams handle everything from taxes to customer service.

Unlike a 1P Amazon seller relationship, we’re eager to involve your brand every step of the way, including when it comes to branding, promotion, channel strategy, and new product launches. We respect your brand by following all brand pricing guidelines and committing to never drop below MAP policies.

Interested in increasing your margins by transitioning to a 3P relationship and partnering with Pattern? Get in touch today.

Amazon's Sponsored Product ads
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What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

Utilizing Amazon sponsored ads can be a smart way for a brand to drive greater traffic to a product listing and start increasing sales. While many brands still struggle to manage their advertising strategies, 30% of Amazon brand sellers increased their advertising budgets in 2022. As ecommerce executives (or even on the nose with VPs of ecommerce?)  approve their 2023 advertising budgets, it may be worth it to take a look at Amazon’s advertising products and the benefit they may have on increasing conversions. 

​​Pattern is the premier ecommerce accelerator with all of the expertise, data-driven insights, and technology brands need to gain control on Amazon and maintain their competitive niche. We know the high value of and how to utilize Amazon’s advertising products to drive the most traffic and conversions to benefit and accelerate your brand.

Here are Amazon’s three main advertising products you should know about in order to drive listing traffic to your products and increase conversions: 

For a brand executive who is selling their product on Amazon, you may not already know the differences between campaign type, so we will walk you through the differences and uses for each of these three ad campaigns.

Sponsored Product Ads

Sponsored Products are a mid-funnel advertising strategy that gives visibility to products above the top organic listings (see example below). This strategy uses custom keywords to get products in front of the consumers who are searching for them, however it can be used to capture new audiences as well.These cost-per-click (CPC) ads require no additional copy or images, but usually receive the most interaction of the campaigns and need to be monitored closely.

As you can see, these ads look just like an organic listing, however they say, “Sponsored,” on them. These types of ads can be especially effective forms of advertising because they tend to blend in with the organic results around them. With Sponsored Products, you can get your products in front of qualified customers who are searching for your product in such a way that doesn’t make them feel like they are being served an advertisement.

Sponsored Brand Ads

Sponsored Brand Ads are a top-of-funnel brand awareness tool and function on keywords. This ad format helps show a customer what they may be in need of and where to get it.  Commonly used to promote product lines or best sellers, a Sponsored Brand ad shows up as a banner above the search results (see example below). This type of ad requires that the brand showcase at least three separate products.

Unlike other campaigns used on the Amazon platform, Sponsored Brand ads require ad copy and a unique logo. These ads also can take customers to a custom landing page, or a page on the brand store, that way they get a clear and overall picture about who your brand is, what other products you sell, and why they can trust your brand

Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display ads can be a tactic for top, middle, or bottom of the advertising funnel due to its varying targeting abilities. Although most commonly found under the bullet points of a detail page, these ads can also show in emails, newsletters, and even more locations off platform.

Unlike the previous ad campaigns discussed, sponsored display ads can target shopping behaviors, like repeat purchasers, similar product purchasers, and even people who viewed the detail page but did not buy. Sponsored Display ads help customers discover your brand, drive awareness, and create loyalty. 

The example above shows just one of the many placements Sponsored Display has.

Accelerate Your Sponsored Products With Pattern 

Rather than competing with each other, each of the three sponsored ad products focus on a different section of the sales funnel, allowing you to target your customers and hit your sales numbers, all while edging out possible competitors. When brands use these advertising campaigns, they can better optimize their ad budget to improve ROAS and build revenue. 

At Pattern, we have all the resources to help your brand build successful advertising and digital marketing campaigns on Amazon so you can increase traffic and conversions, which will in turn increase your revenue

How Pricing Changes on Walmart.com Affect Your Brand
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How Pricing Changes on Walmart.com Affect Your Brand

Walmart.com has announced important changes regarding the “Was Price” and promotions on the digital marketplace. These updates make it more important than ever to optimize your price through implementing proper strategies, controlling your distribution channels, and being intentional about your pricing strategy.

And, as with all digital marketplaces, succeeding on Walmart.com requires performing well in all areas of The Ecommerce Equation. Which means as you optimize your listings’ pricing, as well as traffic, conversions, and availability, your revenue increases.

Pattern has the resources ecommerce brands need to optimize on marketplaces for each factor in the ecommerce equation. We have the technology and strategists to help you improve your traffic, the brand dedication and passion to help you achieve greater conversions, connections to econtrol specialists who help brands regain marketplace control, and the data you need to be able to make smart forecasting decisions for better product availability.

Below, we’ll cover how Walmart.com’s recent platform changes impact ecommerce brands’ ability to drive traffic and conversions for their products and how to strategize around them to work best in your brand’s favor. But first, let’s go over the changes themselves.

Walmart.com’s “Was Price” and Promotional Changes

Walmart.com’s newest changes reflect their mission to be the leader in low, everyday pricing. Therefore, Walmart’s customers come to the platform and expect low prices no matter what. Overall, these updates give consumers more visibility into the value they’re experiencing and hold brands more accountable in the pricing information they display.

Promotional Policy Changes

  • Due to Walmart’s updates, in order for your products to qualify for a strikethrough and show “Reduced Price” or “Clearance” flags on Walmart.com, your product’s promotion must be at least 10% off the “Was Price.” (Note: “Reduced Price” is the most common type of badging. Your teams can request this badge when filling out promotion upload files.) 

  • To specifically qualify for “Clearance,” the product needs to be discontinued and no longer replenished after selling through the remaining inventory.

  • Although “Rollback” is sometimes seen on site, it is a form of 1P-only badging.

  • Walmart now prohibits promotions lasting longer than 365 days.

“Was Price” Changes

  • Walmart’s “Was Price” was previously loosely defined and manually inputted on Walmart.com as an MSRP. Now, stricter rules are in place with regulations in the broader market to encourage enforcement and protect consumers. 

  • The “Was Price” is now defined by these terms on Walmart:

    • Either the 90-day median price paid by customers for the item on Walmart.com (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance);

    • Or the median price offered by Walmart or Marketplace sellers for the item on Walmart.com for at least 28 out of the last 90 days (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance).

How to Strategize for Success

1. Plan for Promotions Well in Advance

To protect your “Was Price” from price erosion, be intentional when planning promotions. To be most effective in your promotion, you’ll want to be able to give your customers a large enough discount to qualify for the slash-through and reduced price badging. 

Without the right pricing strategy in place, your products are in danger of falling into deeper and deeper discounting as you chase the ability to achieve slash-throughs and proper badging. Without the slash-throughs and badging, you’ll lose the ability to easily communicate the increased value of your product and the traffic and conversions you’re trying to earn by running the promotion in the first place. 

2. Keep Pricing Consistent

It’s important to keep your products’ prices as steady as possible to protect your promotion periods. As you prevent high-low price fluctuations, you’ll be able to use slash-through prices and promotional badges like “Reduced Price” and “Clearance” to your advantage in driving better traffic and conversions for your listings.

Without the ability to display badging, a promotion falls flat even if the price has been dropped. With steady pricing over time, you’ll be able to keep a stable “Was Price” and ultimately enjoy more rewarding promotional periods long-term.

3. Establish Excellent Brand Control

It’s important to remember that the “Was Price” policy also applies to 1P and other 3P sellers representing your products on Walmart.com. Unfortunately, your other strategies will be ineffective if other sellers are breaking your MAP policy or playing the high-low price game. So, it’s more important than ever for brands to be conscious of their distribution channels and keep rogue and unauthorized sellers in check.

Find Marketplace Confidence with Pattern

By allowing Pattern to be the authorized seller of your brand’s products and working with Vorys eControl law firm to eliminate rogue sellers, you can be confident in creating and executing a powerful  selling strategy on Walmart.com and other digital marketplaces. As a 3P seller partner, Pattern is truly invested in our partners’ success, we’ll help you to create and execute a strategy that truly prioritizes the long-term performance of your products on digital marketplaces.

Contact us today to learn more about the changes on Walmart.com and how you can optimize your performance.