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.

Explore Our Ecommerce Resource Library

Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Aug 9, 2022

The Ecommerce Equation: 4 Levers CEOs Use to Drive Marketplace Revenue

Developing your ecommerce strategy for digital marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, Tmall, and Alibaba gets complicated fast—there’s a lot to think about, including marketplace SEO, product photography, advertising tactics, disjointed sellers, distribution logistics, managing ratings and reviews, and more. It can be overwhelming for brands, especially those with small teams, to know which behaviors to optimize for for the highest gains in profitability.

The good news? Revenue performance all comes down to data. Pattern was built on a data science approach to ecommerce success. We find the patterns that drive profitability, then apply them to boost our brand partners’ revenue on ecommerce channels.

And a key pattern we follow for all brands on digital marketplaces is the ecommerce equation: revenue = traffic x conversions x price x availability. As brands zero in on these four pieces of the equation, they can simplify and focus their efforts to reach truly profitable ecommerce growth. 

1. Drive Traffic to Products

The first part of the equation is traffic—you need to get people to see your listings if you want to generate sales. There are two ways to drive traffic to your products: through organic search and paid search. Striking the right balance between both for your brands is crucial to driving enough of the right traffic to your products, ultimately increasing your ecommerce revenue.

Knowing this, Pattern provides the resources and technology needed to drive traffic to your product listings. Our brand management team, advertising specialists, and SEO technicians work in harmony to create a unified strategy to boost your brand’s organic profile and balance that with a paid advertising approach that works for your brand and listings.

Using this method, we took Feetures socks from ranking on longer-tail terms like “no show athletic socks black” to driving traffic on parent keywords like “no show socks.”

2. Create Content that Converts

Getting customers to your product listing is only half the battle. Once on your listing, you need customers to convert. Conversion is key to the ecommerce equation because it leads to real product purchases and revenue. Traffic without conversion leads to more time and ad spend without the ROI.

Optimizing your images, product description, bulleted details, customer reviews, and buy box performance is key to successful conversion. If you’re going to spend time and effort driving traffic, you should make sure customers can easily and clearly find what they’re looking for when they arrive at your listing.

While your imagery and descriptions are important, you also need to build customer trust to drive conversions. Studies show that your customer service efforts matter too—84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends, making strong reviews an important factor of conversion on marketplaces.

The good news is as you provide a quality product and a great marketplace experience, you’ll build brand equity, increasing your customer loyalty. Then, as your reputation, reviews, and traffic grow positively, marketplace algorithms will recognize your popularity and improve your rank accordingly. Rank drives both traffic and conversions, helping you to optimize your performance further. As your brand equity grows, your conversions will continue to grow with it.

3. Control Your Price

While setting a strategic price is an important step in your ecommerce strategy, it takes more than that to truly control your price on marketplaces. 

Without proper control and with wide distribution, your product could end up in the hands of disjointed sellers who lower your marketplace price to sell their inventory and make quick profits. With one seller lowering price online, other authorized sellers and retail partners are forced to lower their price to compete, creating price erosion and sending your brand down the profitability death spiral.

This Death Spiral damages brand equity, hurts conversions, and can lead to Buy Box Suppression on Amazon, hindering traffic as well. And as prices get lower and lower, your profit margin withers away, decreasing your overall revenue.

Using our data-driven insights and Pattern’s eControl partner Vorys, we help brands implement narrow distribution, identify and take-down unauthorized sellers, eliminate price erosion, and control their price online. Focusing on price control, Pattern helped LifeSeasons, a premium supplement company, take back 91% control of the Buy Box on Amazon.

Download the LifeSeasons 1-Page Case Study Here

4. Optimize Your Product Availability

The last piece of the ecommerce equation is availability. It makes sense to think of availability as a contributing factor in conversion, but we felt that it’s important enough to call out on its own—you can fully optimize your traffic, conversion, and price, but without availability, you can’t grow revenue for your brand.

A lack of availability leads to stock outs, losing conversions to competitors, losing possession of the buy box, poor customer reviews, a decrease in traffic…the list goes on. The best-performing brands on ecommerce digital marketplaces optimize their availability with high-end technology, optimize their cash on hand, and inventory time on hand to keep the ecommerce equation powered and optimized in their favor.

How Pattern Drives Revenue Using the Ecommerce Equation

Pattern is committed to  solving the ecommerce equation. We partner with brands to provide the expertise, resources, and technology needed to drive traffic, create content that converts, protect price, maintain availability, and ultimately accelerate ecommerce revenue and profitable growth. 

Interested in improving the results of your ecommerce equation? Schedule a call.

Aug 9, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 9th August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon opens first Irish warehouse in Dublin Amazon has unveiled its first Irish fulfilment centre in Dublin, the first of its kind in Ireland, and is expected to create 500 jobs. The ecommerce giant has said the new warehouse promises to decrease delivery times for Irish Amazon customers and will heighten the presence of the company in the market. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/05/amazon-unveils-first-irish-fulfilment-centre-in-dublin/) Amazon fulfils direct from brand stores to offer same-day delivery Amazon has launched a new fulfilment option allowing Prime members to shop for products from local stores and have them delivered on the same day. The initiative has taken off in the US in over 10 cities, with initial partners including Superdry, Diesel and PacSun. Other brands are offering users an option to buy online with Amazon and collect in store. [Read more on Retail Gazette](https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2022/08/amazon-same-day-delivery/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2e98756cab-EMAILCAMPAIGN202208030744&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2e98756cab-61040615) Amazon acquires Roomba manufacturer for $1.7bn Amazon has made a deal to purchase the manufacturer of Roomba for $1.7 billion USD. Roomba is a vacuum brand and is one of the highest selling robot vacuums on the marketplace. Roomba will join Alexa and Ring doorbell as the company expands its home system offerings. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/08/amazon-acquires-roomba-manufacturer-for-1-7bn/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Ebay beats revenue estimates on sales and earnings Ebay has outperformed in terms of its revenue expectations, as a new focus on luxury items and collectibles is improving sales and traffic to the website.The company recently launched a 31,000 square foot Ebay Vault, where collectors are able to store valuables, monitor their market value and sell them to other buyers. [Read more on Bloomberg](https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-03/ebay-beats-estimates-on-sales-and-earnings-forecast-shares-rise) Alibaba lays off 10,000 employees to cut costs amid falling sales Alibaba has allegedly laid off 9241 employees as expenses rise in other areas and sales slow. This marks the company’s first drop in payroll size since 2016, highlighting the urgency to cut costs as it faces regulatory and economic challenges. Alibaba Chairman has said that the company plans on employing over 5000 new graduates in this year. [Read more on Gadgets Now](https://www.gadgetsnow.com/tech-news/alibaba-cuts-10000-jobs-to-cut-costs-amid-falling-sales/articleshow/93392190.cms) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Facebook to close down its live shopping feature Facebook has decided to shut down its live shopping program to focus more on Reels, its short-form video content in an attempt to keep up with Tik Tok to hold Gen-Z’s attention. The company is also ending the ability to create product playlists or tag products on the site. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/09/facebook-to-shut-down-its-live-shopping-program-as-it-shifts-focus-to-video-content/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=57ba61a3b9-EMAILCAMPAIGN202208090745&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-57ba61a3b9-61040615)
Aug 8, 2022

Global insights: Spotlight on Amazon in Emerging Markets

We have analysed Amazon in emerging markets compared to countries where it has already achieved dominance, following its reported growth of 22% between [2020](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-in-2020) and [2021](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-reached-600-billion-in-2021). Pattern’s [Amazon Consumer Insights Report 2022](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022) has highlighted some interesting insights into the similarities and differences in the ways Amazon is used across 17 different countries. We carried out research on various macroeconomic indicators and data related to Amazon usage in each country to better understand the key factors that determine the suitability of the markets. In this blog we outline the most interesting Amazon global insights that will be of interest to brands determining where they should have a presence on the marketplace, particularly Amazon in emerging markets. Population, urbanisation and GDP per capita are all factors which have a large effect on ecommerce and marketplace strategy in a country. These factors need to be taken into consideration when understanding the potential a brand has when entering a new market. We highlight notable takeaways from the report below. Price of Amazon Prime The monthly cost of Amazon Prime varies greatly depending on how developed the Amazon market is in the country. We noticed that in countries with a higher GDP per capita and a more dominant Amazon presence, the price of Prime is substantially higher, for example, in the US ($14.99) and in the UK ($10.08). The monthly cost of Prime in the UK has [recently increased by $1.26](https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62297014) due to higher operating costs, but we believe that UK consumers will accept this increase. As a comparison, less developed markets with lower GDP per capita figures, such as Poland ($2.56) and Brazil ($3.12), have significantly lower monthly Prime prices. Amazon purposely prices Prime to be very cost-effective for customers in emerging markets as a customer acquisition strategy and to help grow its market share more quickly. Desktop vs. Mobile India, Japan and Mexico were found to have higher percentages of traffic from mobile devices compared to other markets. This is in line with data which looks at the [leading countries based on retail mobile commerce sales growth](https://www.statista.com/statistics/1261743/leading-countries-mobile-commerce-sales-growth/), and shows how particular countries spend more time online using mobiles rather than desktops. App Downloads & Ranking In this year’s report, we made the decision to include data on the Amazon App (Android), as more consumers are shopping online on mobile devices. This is reflected in the average monthly downloads and category rank of the app. Mexico sees an average of 1.2 million monthly downloads of the Amazon (Android) App. This is expected, as Mexico is one of the regions that has a higher percentage of traffic from mobile devices compared to desktops. In terms of average monthly Amazon web traffic, Mexico is the 9th largest out of the 17 countries analysed, but after the US and Brazil, is the 3rd largest in terms of monthly downloads of the Android App, highlighting the country’s preference for using the Amazon App. Visit Duration & Page Views In markets where Amazon is robust and well developed, like the USA, UK and Germany, consumers tend to spend more time on the platform and view more pages per visit, as there is more choice from a wider range of products to explore. On the other hand, in markets where Amazon is still either at its early implementation or growing phase, like the Netherlands, Poland, and Brazil, there is less on offer and a far smaller selection or products. Inevitably, we noticed consumers have a lower average visit duration and view fewer pages in these markets. We would expect to see these metrics increase as Amazon’s product selection increases in these markets. Top Selling Categories There are many similarities between the different markets in terms of the top selling categories in each country. Out of 17 countries, 12 had Home & Kitchen and 11 had Electronics in their top 3 categories. Regional differences can be seen with Sports & Outdoors only ranking as a top category in the UK, Video Games only in Japan, and Hardware only in Germany. It is important for brands to acknowledge that not all categories will sell successfully across all markets. Just because the category is popular in one or more markets, does not mean that it will work across all 17 instances that we have analysed. Our Amazon consumer insights report shows that although the online marketplace dominates online retail in the USA and several other Western European countries, the company is aiming to build that position in countries where it is newer in the market by taking into account the regional differences in consumer behaviour and expectations within its proposition. [Download the full report here](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022), and [contact us here](https://pattern.com/uk/contact-us/) to learn how we could support your global marketplace strategy or for more information on how we partner with brands to represent them on Amazon.