5 Things to Look for in a China Trade Partner

Rachel Olsen

July 26, 2022

If you’re succeeding on domestic ecommerce marketplaces, you’re likely looking for a new opportunity to help expand your brand's reach and stay competitive long-term. Entering China is a smart move if you’re a Western brand because you will have some advantages—Chinese consumers show special interest in high-quality foreign products and their brands often find it easier to build trust as a foreign seller.

It’s an exciting prospect to consider, but taking your products to China is no small feat. Many brands mistake the move as akin to entering a new domestic market or a new Amazon region. In truth, the experience is very different—there’s so much to learn before you start, like the nuances between different marketplaces, cultural practices you’ll need to adhere to, rules and regulations to follow…the list goes on.

For this reason, all brands expanding to China on any marketplace need to have a trade partner (or TP) to guide them through the process. But, it’s hard to find a TP you fully trust and will drive the best results for your brand. Partnering with an ecommerce accelerator like Pattern is an effective way to make sure you have what you need to be profitable on global marketplaces. We help brands gain all the global resources, marketplace logistics and administrative information, and cultural knowledge necessary to get your brand and products into China marketplaces the right way. 

5 Essentials for a China Trade Partner

1. Experience

Any brand looking to enter China needs specialized knowledge and expertise to do it well. China is a much bigger market than what brands are used to—owning 50% of the world’s transactions. There are also many more competitors and unique obstacles to overcome. If you’re not prepared, things like the need for a physical presence in China, a strategy for in-person product interactions, getting the right resources for customer support and human touch points in the buyer’s journey, and determining the right distribution model can overwhelm your strategy.

For these reasons, you need to have experts on your side with the right mindset. Any TP you choose should understand the difficulties associated with launching in China and the fact that a long-term mindset is the only way you’ll succeed.

To find a TP with the right experience, they should satisfactorily answer questions like:

  • Have you sold in my product’s category before?

  • Do you have the right background to know how my products will fit their target marketplaces before we launch?

Pattern helps a wide range of brands enter China markets. We know what it takes to succeed, and we have all of the knowledge and expertise you’ll need to make educated decisions about when and how to expand your brand to China marketplaces. 

2. Transparency

Especially for brands that are unfamiliar with the nuances of China marketplaces, it’s imperative to understand how and where your products are being sold. A lack of transparency is the most common complaint we hear from brands entering the China ecommerce landscape. 

In many cases, brands will pay their trade partner and then, without receiving any concrete information or documentation, assume their brand and products are well-represented. It’s fairly rare to see a TP that will provide access to warehouses, clear and accurate reports, and other hard evidence of your products’ performance

We encourage you to find a trade partner who stands out from the crowd—someone who is willing to be transparent in all aspects of their partnership with you. A great first step is watching for what they’re willing to disclose while you’re considering your partnership. Such as:

  • Have they been successful with other brands?

  • Who else are they working with?

  • Do they sell products that could compete with yours on the same marketplaces? 

Trade partners have a reputation for shielding their brands from information and details, but that doesn’t have to be a reality in your relationship. As you move forward in your decision making, transparency and accountability should be a large factor in choosing the right trade partner.

3. Data-Driven Mindset

A lack of data is another common issue with trade partners that goes hand-in-hand with transparency. Brands are typically unsure of the true performance of their products on Chinese marketplaces because their trade partners don’t provide them with specific data about their products’ performance and sales.

You can imagine the difficulties this creates—a TP may have many things to say anecdotally about your sales, but brands are shielded from the true numbers or an ability to access reporting. It’s harder for brands to be involved in their ecommerce strategy, make decisions, forecast, and grow their presence in China without clearly, concretely understanding what’s really going on.

Data powers everything we do at Pattern. As a certified TP, we share insights and brand performance with our partners and provide brands with access to proprietary dashboards to review their data to stay in the know about what’s going on with their products.

4. Brand Obsessed

To get the best results from your China presence, it’s best to make sure your trade partner truly has your brand’s best interests at heart. But unfortunately for many brands, trade partners’ profits can take precedence over their brands’ success. Brand obsession can be tricky to discern, though, especially when you’re limited in getting to know your trade partner by distance and conflicting time zones. 

One way you can gauge your trade partner’s true loyalty to your brand is by paying close attention to how they’re paid. Product sales commissions are typically part of trade partners’ revenue model, but if they only represent a small portion of your partners’ earnings, you may want to think about looking at other options. You’ll know that your potential TP, if they’re transparent and data-driven, really wants you to succeed if they’ll put their earnings on the line to prioritize your profitability.

At Pattern, your success is our success. We structure our revenue model to be margin-based, which means, we aren’t paid until you are. We truly want the best for our brands and are fully committed to building healthy, long-term growth for your products throughout global marketplaces.

5. All-in-One Solution

Lastly, your trade partner should be well-equipped to serve you in whatever your brand needs to succeed. This means they should have all of the necessary functions to execute a holistic ecommerce strategy. If you need to hire a TP for your social media strategy, another to handle distribution, and another to manage your listings, you’re likely not getting the right value for your partnership. Instead, you should find a solution that has the complete set of resources to do it all.

When you find a true China ecommerce expert, they’ll have both the resources and know-how to execute the right overall strategy for your brand. They should be able to help you with the research and planning phases of your China launch as well as recommend and implement the best ways to help you grow in the right marketplaces for you.

Grow on Global Marketplaces with Pattern

As the world’s foremost ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can handle your end-to-end strategy to grow your brand both domestically and internationally. Pattern is an option to be your brand's trading partner since we know local languages, customs, and cultural nuances to clearly communicate your brand as we plan, strategize, and execute your products’ success in China. We make your success our business, dedicating expert teams, years of experience, and proprietary technology to find the best ways to take your products to consumers throughout the world.

Discover how Pattern can be your trading partner. Schedule a call with us here.

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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 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 13, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 13th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon scales back on US warehouse facilities Amazon is shutting down two facilities with 300 employees, discarding plans for 42 facilities, and delaying plans to open a further 21 buildings across the US. The ecommerce giant is scaling back on hiring as well as the expansion of its vast delivery network, as it was left with an excess of space following its rapid expansion during the pandemic. [Read more on Business Insider](https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-closes-2-facilities-scraps-plans-42-new-buildings-report-2022-9?r=US&IR=T) --- Other Marketplace News --- JD.com is ‘betting’ on ecommerce grocery market Amidst a slowing economy and a decline in ecommerce, Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com has increased its urgency to seek new growth engines. The company is looking to boost its online grocery business through offline partnerships and expansion into lower-tier cities, where it may be able to unleash more consumption power. [Read more on The Star](https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2022/09/08/chinese-ecommerce-giant-jdcom-bets-big-on-online-grocery-lower-tier-markets-amid-slowing-economy) Shopee shuts operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico Sea’s ecommerce arm, Shopee, has shut local operations in some LATAM countries but will continue to maintain cross-border operations in a few markets. Latin America is Sea’s most important region following South-east Asia, accounting for close to 19% of its revenue in 2021. The move away from these countries is largely due to increased levels of macro uncertainty and rising interest and inflation rates, and rather putting a focus on its core operations. [Read more on Straits Times](https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/seas-shopee-shuts-operations-in-argentina-chile-colombia-mexico-sources) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Instagram scales back in-stream shopping elements Instagram is re-examining its approach as it hasn’t been able to make ‘fetch’ happen. ‘Fetch’ in this context being the online shopping trends which have become all-consuming in China, and what Western social platforms have been hoping to add into their apps to make them more addictive and revenue-generating. Consumers have not been swayed by the latest shopping tools on TikTok and Instagram, leading to Instagram scaling back its in-stream shopping program. [Read more on SocialMediaToday](https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-scales-back-in-stream-shopping-elements-as-it-re-examines-its-app/631276/) FedEx Express supporting the growth of cross border ecommerce FedEx express has expanded its international commerce shipping service to four more markets across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region in an effort to support the strong development of ecommerce in this region. Three of the fastest growing markets, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are leading Southeast Asia’s ecommerce sales, which is set to reach $100 billion by 2023. [Read more on Post & Parcel](https://postandparcel.info/149889/news/e-commerce/fedex-express-supports-the-growth-of-cross-border-e-commerce-within-the-amea-region/) India ramps up hiring as companies prepare for shoppers Ecommerce companies are getting ready for the festive season by rapidly expanding their temporary workforce. As ecommerce in India grows, the country is predicted to have 372 million online shoppers by the end of 2022. The festive season this year, running from October to December, is expected to see a two-fold increase in logistics and delivery alone. During this period, companies are predicted to add 20% more to their existing workforce base, with a 8-10% higher pay scale compared to last year. [Read more on Business Insider India](https://www.businessinsider.in/business/ecommerce/news/the-great-indian-festival-of-hiring-e-commerce-companies-gear-up-for-indias-shoppers/articleshow/94000346.cms)