JD.com (Chinese: 京东商城; pinyin: Jīngdōng Shāngchéng), also commonly referred to as Jingdong, is the second-largest e-commerce company in Mainland China with a focus on primarily B2C online retail. They currently hold a 25% market share, are now an official member of the Fortune Global 500, and remain Alibaba’s largest domestic competitor.
As of March 2017, JD had 236.5 million active customer accounts and have this year expanded their reach into online grocery shopping, travel, and cosmetics. No longer are JD just associated with electronics and technical products, this is a serious contender to Alibaba’s Tmall.
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For international brands, JD & Tmall tend to be top of the agenda but in fact, these platforms can be fiercely competitive, there is a large user base to tap into but merely appearing on JD is not enough. Your visibility must be supported by a comprehensive marketing campaign to improve both the awareness and reputation of your brand and products.
A Trusted Local Partner
A local partner is required to collaborate on JD set up, jump administration hurdles, and also platform registration. Local standards in China are very different than those in the rest of the world. JD set itself apart from the large counterfeit movement in China by only offering vetted and approved products, you need to be able to provide all the necessary documentation to verify the business both financially and in terms of your international ‘brand recognition. JD is for serious eCommerce players entering the Chinese market.
The reality is that 65% of brands are not accepted on JD.com, brands need a clear proposal, local understanding of the market, and initial brand awareness online in China to support their application. This can be achieved by also running campaigns on smaller platforms such as ‘Little Red Book’, ‘Taobao Global’ and through driving sales via a WeChat store (for example).
Create a Shop & Optimize Pages
Creating a shop on JD that is branded is vital, the templates are highly customizable and must be formatted for the JD platform. Page layouts must be clear, product presentation attractive and the whole aesthetic style on brand. Store pages on JD are well built in terms of the sales funnel and allow for further browsing once a product has been added to the user’s shopping cart.
Additionally, pages need to be optimized for Mandarin Characters, how is the language presented and what technical keywords are you going to feature?
Understand competition on JD
JD is a hotly contested marketplace, for both domestic and international players. Study competitors who are already driving traffic to the store, how do they present pages, and engage with e-shoppers. It is a dynamic process of understanding the competition and situating yourself within your particular product sector. An intelligent approach is required when it comes to comparative analysis.
The majority of traffic is driven via ads, both PPC (pay per click) and banner ads. These need to be managed in terms of keyword selection and optimization. What keywords drive the most qualified traffic to your store in terms of sales conversion? What is the bidding price for keywords and how will the ad budget be allocated. It’s also important to create the content of the ad in the right way, memorable and eye-grabbing phrases and visuals are necessary to increase sales performance from ad links. Targeted banner ads would typically be placed on JD itself whilst PPC (pay per click) ad links are focused on Baidu where 75% of online research is conducted.
JD Store Management
A store won’t manage itself alas; product listings need to be updated based on stock and sales, new promotional offers added, and branded communications updated on the store page. Additionally, analytical feedback based on traffic, click-through rates, impressions, and ultimately sales need to be considered as a vital part of the JD ‘campaign loop’.
Chinese Social Media
JD is a powerful ‘shop front’ for sales but most campaigns in China require a strong social element, particularly as the whole nation is ‘WeChat Centric’. WeChat now has 877 million active daily users. You can develop a customer services-led, communicative approach that engages with users. Traffic can even be driven via QR codes (links) to official accounts and vice versa to a JD store.
WeChat also is a great launchpad for branded content and pushing this to followers and fans of your brand.
Weibo (akin to Twitter) is also a popular platform for influencers, these are Chinese ‘opinion leaders’ that have developed significant followings around themselves (often over 100 000) and can be recruited to represent your brand. It’s a costly approach but powerful in terms of visibility and traffic levels.
Participate in JD Events
Your brand can participate in JD events on large-scale shopping days such as ‘Singles Day’ or around Chinese New Year where store pages will often be customized to feature the symbols corresponding to that year. JD also hold their own promotional sales and have a strong offline presence in China in terms of their branding.
Chinese Customer Services
It’s vital to offer local customer services via instant messaging services, these can be incorporated into your store. A local customer service line is necessary to manage inquiries and ensure a smooth consumer journey. As mentioned before WeChat can even be used to provide customer services through the IM service as well as submitting inquiries via a contact form.
Focus on Return On Investment
The focus in China has to be on Return On Investment, once established on the right channels you can manage your campaign and re-invest into the most effective areas based on sales results.
It takes time to build reputation and visibility, JD.com is not a ‘magic bullet’ for brands. It is a powerful e-commerce platform but must be supported with an intelligent digital strategy.
JD remains a promising platform to work with as they expand their horizons into the travel and grocery sectors with greater opportunities for cross-promotion across the e-commerce players growing range of services.
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