Considering Launching Your Brand in China? 3 Ways to Know You’re Ready to Go Global

Rachel Olsen

July 14, 2022

Executives seeing success in their current ecommerce strategy view China as the next step to increase their profitability. When you look at the numbers, it is easy to understand the logic—the U.S. currently has a 22% ecommerce penetration rate, while China sits at around 50%. And when you consider that China’s population is 4 times that of the U.S., you can begin to understand the magnitude of the opportunity. It has the largest digital buyer population in the world, and in 2021, China contributed to over half of the world’s ecommerce retail sales.

It’s clear that achieving next level ecommerce success might require a brand presence in China, and, if you’re prepared to make a long-term investment in growing your product presence and sales globally, expanding into China can be a great move.

As you think about growing globally, brands typically find greater success when they have a partner guiding them through the process. As the expert in ecommerce acceleration, Pattern has the global resources and local market expertise necessary to make a successful transition into new marketplaces, including China. Partnering with Pattern means your brand has access to our global network of fulfillment services and logistics, top-level data analysts and insights, proprietary technology, and local experts to help with in-market regulations and customs laws—we can help you execute a profitable, long-term strategy tailored for your brand. 

3 Ways Brands Will Know if They are Ready to Expand into China

1. Understand the Required Investment

Most brands think of expanding into China as a quick way to boost their product sales, or something they can experiment with for short-term gains. This may be somewhat true when expanding into new domestic markets, but expanding into China requires a much bigger commitment and many more resources than brands usually expect.

Almost every brand that Pattern launches in China finds success on Tmall, Alibaba and other marketplaces, but starting with the right mindset is key to their performance. We like to ask brands, “Are you willing to lose money for the next five years in order to expand to China?” 

This certainly isn’t the standard timeframe that most brands experience, but it helps leaders understand that this move is about long-term strategy, rather than short-term wins. It takes a huge effort in acquiring resources, establishing a solid strategy, and staying persistent over time to really see improvement in your profits. 

Pattern’s local market experts provide brands with additional, crucial insights you’ll need to factor in as well, like understanding regulatory and customs costs, multimedia resources you’ll need for China-specific listings, product filing needs for your brand, and other hidden fees you haven’t considered yet.

2. Conduct Extensive Market Research

It’s easy to get excited about the profit potential in China, but the size of the opportunity also signifies the difficulty in taking advantage of it—the competitive landscape of ecommerce in China is much larger and more intense than it is domestically. It’s hard enough to compete in U.S. ecommerce when you’re on the second page of Amazon. How do you compete when you’re showing up on the 200th page of Tmall? 

Every brand must do its research. You’ll need to know things like: which comparable products already exist in China? Is your product already manufactured or sold there? Is there demand for this product? How does your product work with the cultural nuances of China vs the U.S.? What is your pricing strategy and promotional expectations?

Another big consideration is the dynamics of the products you’re trying to sell. For instance, many people don’t understand that most buyers in China don’t trust ecommerce sellers. There’s a huge amount of fake items, so every product you sell needs to have an authentic and informed customer service touchpoint. If you’re not prepared to provide the manpower and resources to execute exceptional customer service, implementing that support late in the game can be a big setback to your successful expansion.

3. Develop Strong Online and Offline Activation Strategy

Once you’ve done your research to understand the dynamics of your product in China and how it fits into the landscape, you’ll have to develop a solid activation strategy for going forward, both on- and offline.

The sheer volume of transactions in the China marketplace and the number of products available makes succeeding there much trickier than on U.S. marketplaces. Brands typically have a much harder time achieving consistent performance in China, especially if they’re already struggling with getting product to perform well domestically. So, before you expand to China, you’ll need to have a clear, foolproof online strategy for advertising, product listings, optimizations, and more to guide you on your way

An offline activation strategy is a must, too. For instance, the cost and hassle of distributing your products in China can be a big surprise to brands. In order to get product into China, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to establish domestic representation, which means working with a trading partner (which has its own additional costs), or using the cross-border distribution method, which requires setting up an expensive flagship Tmall store in China. 

Your offline strategy also needs to include ways to introduce your products to consumers so they can physically interact with them to continue building trust with your brand and expanding your customer base. Pattern helps our partners to achieve this with product placement opportunities at in-person events, brick and mortar stores, and other locations.

Another consideration: it’s smart to avoid working with a Chinese trading partner as you expand to help you stay in control of your brand. Pattern’s brand partnership approach involves buying your inventory and managing all the logistics necessary to get your product into market and, ultimately, in the hands of your consumers.

Reach Marketplace Success in China with an Ecommerce Accelerator 

Expanding to China marketplaces is a great idea for brands looking to take their ecommerce success to new heights. If you’re prepared to make the investment, you’ve done the necessary market research for all aspects of your product’s performance, and you have a great activation strategy in place for both online and offline success, you’ll be set to take advantage of the huge opportunity with Chinese consumers.

As a Pattern partner, you can access our extensive expertise and resources to succeed both domestically and internationally. We have an established presence in China (with over 150 employees, 3 offices, and our own audit warehouses) and teams of highly experienced global experts to help your products perform their best and increase profitability for your brand as a whole. 

Contact us to learn how we can establish or improve your business on a global scale.

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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 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 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.