Social commerce, or also known as e-commerce, is about the user being included in the shopping experience. China, one of the biggest producers of different businesses around the Globe, is said to be 10 years ahead of the rest of the world in both e-commerce and social media, at least according to Vincent Digonnet of Razorfish Asia-Pacific. The main reason why it’s ahead? The overlap in the West is very small between the population on social media and brand consumers as people on social media is less than 25 years old and people with money are more than 55 years old, while in China, people on social media are older, and people with money are younger. At the same time, people in China are massive creators of content, while Western people have about 1 in 100 people with genuine content, 9 in a 100 comments or curates, and a big number just passive spectators.
China is the dreamplace for ecommerce
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Social Media for the Chinese
The Chinese have a very different way of utilizing social media. Non-Chinese people usually join social media to keep up with life and friends, send sweet nothings, and update with life. The Chinese, on the other hand, join social media for more thoughtful things like general questions and inquiries about where, what, how in using different kinds of products; they use it in a very utilitarian element. They use social media as consumer engagement platform; they treat social media as the backbone for social marketing.
An example would be different markets like eBay and Taobao. EBay has been there since 1995 while Taobao just the recent year of 2003. Like eBay, Taobao does not sell anything itself, it simply matches consumers and buyers. But, unlike eBay, Taobao has a chat system where consumers can feel more comfortable, consumers have a say, the site has a large space for user generated content, consumers could chat with fellow consumers, consumers could score, see the scores, consumers can freely say their whole experience, and so on… with this virtual cycle, Taobao is literally a “free market.” In Taobao, unlike eBay, the consumers are involved; with the whole cycle almost everything on their court. Again unlike eBay, social media is the heart and center of Taobao. Now, eBay was pulled off China due to decreasing demand and Taobao holds 80% of China’s online market.
There are two kinds of advertisers in the market today, the people that understand that advertising is no longer the driver of the brand building, and the people who still think that advertising is the key to brand building. Like what Diggonet said, “And in China, e-commerce platforms are more than transactional platforms now. They are the place where you merge social media, brand experience, and transaction. It’s the best place to build your brand, so it’s beyond just transaction.”
Companies Coming Into China
Companies from all over the globe are quite welcome in China and not as they call it as China having different strict rules, like for example, in Google, which is a very bad example. The truth is, China’s platforms are just way better for the Chinese than those from the West. Like for example, Tmall’s experience is better than Amazon’s, Meilishuo is better than Pinterest, WeiXin/WeChat is better than WhatsApp, Weibo is better than Twitter… So should advertisers feel that social media threat? According to Diggonet, it’s actually the opposite. It false people to really figure out what’s the role to each outlet is. Diggonet’s advice for Western platforms coming into China? “Look at the functionality and the systems that have been built by the platforms in China themselves and make sure that what you offer is at least at flow with that before you enter the market.”
Next Big Thing
Soon, there will only be stores so that consumers could have a personal, sensational experience, but in buying a product, salespeople will come with a tablet where you list orders, pay, and let the brand deliver to your home. The next big thing will be the merger of the best of commerce with the best of store experience. Learn China’s ways, and maybe, you won’t fall off as far as from China’s tail.