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 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)
Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce 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.

Sept 15, 2022

The 3 Tmall Metrics That Every Brand Needs to Know

If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.

At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.

What is Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR)?

Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.

Why DSR Determines Success on Tmall

DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.

Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.

DSR Score Elements

1. Service

Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.

So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.

2. Delivery

Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.

So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.

3. Content

As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.

The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).

Expand Internationally With Pattern

As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter. 

It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.

Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.