Understand the Best Way to Sell in China

It’s no secret that the Chinese market is one of the most lucrative in the world. For businesses looking to expand and grow, there’s no better place to invest. However, breaking into this market can be difficult – especially when it comes to selling your product or service. There are certain nuances and cultural sensitivities that you need to be aware of in order to make a successful sale.

So, how do you go about selling in China? Let’s take a look at some of the best practices…

How can I sell my product in China through an online marketplace?

  1. Work on your Branding and reputation (branding is everything in China) 
  2. Open Social Media accounts on Weibo and WeChat 
  3. Open Tmall Store – or Taobao store
  4. Create long landing pages, with a lot of details 
  5. Collaborate with Chinese KOLs on Weibo, Taobao, Douyin  
  6. Advertise on Tmall, and on other websites like Weibo, Youku
  7. Optimize sales and conversion on Tmall 

What’s happening in the Chinese Market?

Who is the Chinese Consumer

With China’s rapid development and urbanization, more Chinese are able to buy more expensive goods. Although displaying their purchasing power is an incentive on its own, product quality is of importance.

Customers are eager for product information and when they have it and are satisfied with a platform, they buy more often. In 2017, more than 40% of consumers bought from the platform 3 or more times, and 17% bought from it more than five times.

Opportunities & Challenges for foreign companies in China

  • Huge demand for online shopping & democratization of online payment platforms has made it easier than ever for international companies to enter the China market, but the competition to reach Chinese customers is also tougher
  • The consequence of selling imported goods is that most products on Tmall Global are typically more expensive; however, Tmall customers are accustomed to and willing to pay these higher prices.
  • Chinese value timely delivery and therefore logistics is an important factor. For logistics distribution, Tmall Global requires the merchant to complete the delivery within 120 hours and for the product to arrive within 14 working days. Logistics information must be trackable throughout the length of the process.

What are the main ways to sell in China for foreign companies?

Sell in China with a Chinese Distributor

When selling in China through a distributor, you can benefit from their local knowledge of Chinese business culture and established connections. A good distributor will be able to navigate the complex business landscape and help you build relationships with key players in the market.

Additionally, a distributor can take on many of the logistical tasks involved in doing business in China, such as arranging to ship and handling customs clearance, which can free up your time and resources to focus on other aspects of your business.

However, such a distributor is rare and difficult to reach out to! Truth be told, most Chinese distributors are looking to make quick money and will bet on companies that are already well established

distribution-solutions-in-china

It can be difficult to find a Chinese distributor to sell your product in China. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

  1. You can also reach out to local trade associations or chambers of commerce in China to get connected with local distributors.
  2. Another option is to contact export agencies in China that can help you connect with local distributors
  3. Lead generation through improving your online reputation combined with active prospection

Sell directly to Chinese consumers and keep control over the full sales process

Direct sales means more work from your side in terms of getting a business license and logistics, but the reward is total control over your brand in China and not having to rely on anyone but yourself. Plus, as we are going to see later in this post, they are a simplified way to enter and sell products on the Chinese market for western brands!

godiva store in china

Sell in China Offline in a physical Store

Although e-Commerce has tremendously grown in popularity, offline shopping is still a staple for Chinese households. Indeed, we obverse when looking at the different industries, that offline sales are holding up quite well against the soaring number of online sales. Here are some benefits of selling offline in China:

  • If your brand has enough resources to open a branded brick-and-mortar store, it means that you are legitimate, and it will give you credibility with Chinese consumers.
  • Enhancing the customer experience: Chinese buyers place a high value on the customer experience, and they are more likely to make purchases in physical stores if the experience is positive. A physical store allows customers to touch and feel the product, which can enhance their purchase decision.
  • A physical store gives you the possibility to organize offline events.

The more “negative” side of the offline store, is its costs: rent, employee salary, and training. Sometimes, your offline store serves more as a vitrine than a point of sales – peoples discover your product offline and purchase them on your online store.

As a matter of fact, most brands are using an O2O strategy. – meaning online to offline or offline to online. Using both sales channels to redirect and convert prospects into customers

This brings us to our next point: e-commerce

Enter the Chinese eCommerce market and Sell Online

There are many reasons why selling online in China can be beneficial for brands. One of the most obvious reasons is that it gives brands a much wider audience to sell to. When brands sell online in China, they are opening up their products to millions of potential customers who may not have had access to them otherwise.

coffee brand on tmall case study by gma

Another reason why selling online in China can be beneficial is that it can help brands build relationships with Chinese consumers. Due to the fact that Chinese consumers are often reluctant to purchase from foreign brands, by establishing an online presence in China, brands can start to build trust and credibility with potential customers. This is something that is difficult to do without an online presence.

Now, with e-commerce in China, you have a couple of options:

  • Sell the classic version on the Chinese online marketplace. You’ll need a Chinese business license, but customers won’t have limits on how much they can buy from you.
  • Sell on cross-border online marketplaces. No need for a Chinese business license, but you still have access to Chinese online users. Plus? You can start selling online in China without registering your company in China.
Cross-border E-Commerce in China: Great Way to Sell in China (From Your Country)

Cross-border e-commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services between two different countries. This can be done either online or offline, but increasingly, businesses are turning to online cross-border eCommerce in order to reach a larger audience and tap into new markets without fully committing.

There are a myriad of e-commerce platform that offers cross-border options to merchants: the most famous being Tmall and JD; For the sake of this article, today we will only be focusing on Tmall’s cross-border online platforms: Tmall Global;

china-cross-border-ecommerce-date-citation

The main advantage of cross-border e-commerce is that you won’t need a Chinese business license, therefore you won’t need a Chinese bank account, but you still have access to the same online payments method as a local business do.

However, you’ll be limited as to what you can sell and how much you can sell per buyer. It is a way for China to control and secure its domestic market.

If you wish to learn more about cross-border e-commerce and platforms that offer this service, RDV to this Introduction to China’s Most Popular Cross-Border Ecommerce Platforms

Tmall Global platform

Tmall Global is one of the most popular cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) to emerge from China. In the last quarter of 2017, Tmall ranked first in the CBEC market with a 27.6% market share. Its competitors Kaola.com and JD Worldwide ranked second and third, respectively. The Top three CBEC’s market share has exceeded 60% of the whole market. In 2018, Tmall Global is still a leading platform.

Consumers prefer to buy health care products and baby food in the United States, Australia, and Germany. Japan and South Korea are top choices for skincare products. Beauty skincare products are becoming the main consumption objects, accounting for 30 percent of Tmall Global’s total sales. Among them, Skin Care and Colour Cosmetics products are the highest sales products under this category.

TMALL-FLAGSHI-STORE-FEATURES

The number of consumers and purchase frequency of Tmall has increased 3 times in 2017, since 2015. The post 90s generation is the main force of sales growth of Tmall Global as well as many small countries, as they are more open to trying new things.

Tmall (previously known as Taobao Mall) is a Chinese-language website for business-to-consumer (B2C) online retail, spun off from Taobao, and operated in China by Alibaba Group. It is a platform for Chinese consumers to buy domestic goods.

Alibaba Group has taken a step further with Tmall Global in cross-border e-commerce. It was officially launched on February 19, 2014. The main function is for international businesses to sell brand-name goods directly to Chinese consumers. The majority of goods on Tmall Global are imported. Up to 2017, it has covered 68 countries and districts, with more than 3,700 kinds of products and 16,400 overseas brands.

All the companies in Tmall Global are corporate entitles outside mainland China, with overseas retail qualifications. The goods sold on Tmall Global are produced initially or sold overseas and imported legally.

All Tmall Global stores have Chinese inquiry services and after-sales services available. Domestic consumers can use Alipay or other methods that can be used on the domestic platform, Taobao, to buy goods on Tmall Global. The strategy of Tmall Global is to be international and attract more global brands.

How to successfully sell your products on the Chinese market?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when selling your products on the Chinese market:

  1. Localized marketing – it’s important to tailor your marketing efforts to local preferences;
  2. understanding the buying process – Chinese consumers often value quality and price equally, and will often do considerable research before making a purchase;
  3. meeting consumer preferences – Chinese consumers are extremely brand-conscious and often look for prestige and status in the products they buy; and
  4. developing successful partnerships – forming strong partnerships with local distributors or companies is essential for success in China.
WHAT-YOU-NEED-TO-SUCCEED-IN-CHINA-MARKETING-STRATEGIES

Because having a flagship store on a Chinese e-Commerce platform is not enough, here are some advises to increase your visibility and conversion rate in China and beat domestic brands!

Start with building a strong reputation online

In China, brand reputation is an important purchase Criterion. You have to do everything to always have a good image alongside Chinese customers. If you lose your reputation, you will lose everything.
You need to make sure that you get good comments for your spirit brand on forums, social media, and other websites.

Chinese consumers only trust brands that have good comments and recommendations from friends or family and on media platforms. Don’t hesitate to engage our digital marketing agency that can help you to keep a good image and avoid all bad comments about your brand.

Start with your Chinese Website and Search Engine Optimization

The very first step of your journey in China should be developing your own website or webpage optimized for Baidu (and the great firewall) but also for China’s UX must, ultimately it will have to be mobile-friendly. You need a website for credibility, but also because it opens the way to SEO and SEM.

Note that, you should see your website more as a way to redirect your visitors to an indirect sales channel (aka Chinese e-commerce platforms) rather than as a direct sales channel. When online shopping, consumers tend to prefer the large e-commerce platform that they trust a lot more than an individual website. Chinese companies are aware of this, but many western companies still believe their website should be their main sales channel and thus put resources that should go elsewhere.

Baidu SEO is incredibly important if you want to make your website visible to Chinese internet users. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps ensure that your website appears as high up as possible on search engine results pages (SERPs), making it more likely that people will click through to your site.

In the Chinese consumer market, international brands ought to develop a Chinese website

Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, with a market share of around 80% (95 for mobile search). As such, it’s essential to optimize your site for Baidu if you want to reach Chinese consumers. This can be a challenge, however, as Baidu operates differently from other major search engines like Google and Bing.

Website optimization for Chinese search engines, must do:

  • Make sure your website is in simplified Chinese.
  • Make sure your website is well-indexed by Baidu. You can use the Baidu Webmaster Tools to help you with this.
  • Use the correct keywords in your website content and titles. You can use the Baidu keyword tool to help you choose the right keywords.
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices. More and more Chinese people are using mobile devices to access the internet, so it’s important to make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
  • No google plugins – Chinese users won’t be able to load any elements designed by google
  • Hosted in China (if your website has a commercial purpose you’ll need a Commercial ICP License, if not you can go for a non-commercial ICP License) or in a neighboring country for quick page loading.
royalmansour-gma-case-study-website
An example of a foreign company that has invested in a Chinese website – by GMA

SEO should be playing a consequent role in your marketing strategy – it is the most cost-efficient and long-lasting way of increasing both visibility and credibility. In a market where marketing costs can go up incredibly fast, foreign enterprises should definitely go for SEO.

Build Brand Awareness with Chinese Social Media Channels

promote watch in china - gma case study
  • There are a number of reasons why social media marketing is great for building brand awareness in China. First, social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo have huge user bases, providing brands with vast audiences to reach.
  • Second, Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to social media for information about products and services, making it an essential channel for businesses looking to engage with potential customers.
  • Finally, social media allows businesses to target their messages very specifically, ensuring that they reach the right people with the right message at the right time.

Western brands that sell products in China need WeChat Marketing

There are a few key reasons why Western brands selling products in China need to be using WeChat marketing:

  1. WeChat has over 1 billion users, making it the perfect platform for reaching a large audience
  2. If you are not on WeChat with an official account, you won’t get the trust of consumers
  3. WeChat is very user-friendly and easy to use, which makes it ideal for engaging customers.
  4. WeChat provides a lot of valuable features such as loyalty programs and payment capabilities, which helps brands connect with customers more effectively.
  5. WeChat is constantly evolving and expanding, so brands can continue to rely on it for reaching Chinese consumers.

KOL TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND

To gain visibility and e-reputation, it is crucial to encourage positive word-of-mouth. KOL can help you.
The Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are social media users who succeeded to make a lot of traffic on their accounts and became famous. Chinese consumers idolize KOLs, and trust them more than brands. Some KOLs have millions of fans.

They are perfect to influence the mass population. You can influence consumers, by using KOLs as intermediaries. Through them, you are able to reach your target group. In other words, intermediaries can be a great asset in selling your imported spirits to Chinese consumers.

Example Mike Sui. A US Chinese hot KOL

To go further: China online distributors

They are like your traditional distributors, but will instead sell your products online. There are two types:

  • The one that has a network of online stores on different Chinese eCommerce platforms
  • The eCommerce platforms themselves

We could say online distributors are a link between technology and business cultures.

Find distributors and resellers on Taobao & Tmall

You can find distributors on these platforms if your products are “hot” and if you have good brand awareness. You can contact these Sellers and offer them to resell your products in their store. We can also help you to do that.

China online distributor: TMALL B2D, a different type of e-commerce

Tmall Brand to Distributor is a platform that link distributors and new brand in China. It is an opportunity for any Brand to directly deal with distributors in China.

We have a full presentation email us to receive it.

LEAD GENERATION PROFESSIONALS

Want to spend less time prospecting? Let Chinese company reach out to you instead. It’s possible. With lead generation. The trick is to have enough online visibility

We are professionals in lead generation. To be effective in your lead generation, you need first to develop a good e-reputation. Investing in online advertising and creating quality content will help you develop your e-reputation. Finally, measure results to improve your performance.

Other articles:

You are a foreign company looking to Sell in China? Let us guide you

Gentlemen marketing agency: How sells china

We are an international team, here to help you to develop your business in China.

We understand your Chinese consumers: their needs and habits.

We have a large experience and also understand the foreign brands’ difficulties when they tried to enter the Chinese market.

Contact us:

  1. Receive Free Consultation 
  2. Receive our Case studies 
  3. Receive our Solution to Sell in China and our Pricing 

32 comments

  • muskan

    dear sir;
    i am from pakistan can i start mine busniess in china my work is of saloom and i have a best reward in beautician mine work is aowsem but i dont know how i can work in china how can i visit china can you tell us how can i come to china and can srtart my busniess how can i do online work in china

  • Hi, I would like to receive a free consultation

  • Hello,
    I am Sam Wu, I work for a online wholeseller, and my company plans to sell quality premium western Brands in China (only quality from Europe, Canada, Australia etc
    We are specialized in maximize online promotion use livestreaming to sell on Chinese sell platforms .
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    Please share to me your brand information and wechat to collaborate

    • Cristian Botizan

      I’m artisan coffee roaster in Italy.I want the sell my product in China.

    • Hi Sam,
      Please leave me your email address to share my brand information with you.
      Thanks

  • I want to sell our nepali natural product in china .how can i do ?

    • After reading this article you should already have a good idea of how to sell 🙂
      If you want to know deeper, we can call you, send us an email with more detail information Ganesh.

  • How so u Register your Trademark in china if u leave in Another country.

    • Hello, you have to use a local agency for that

      • hi,
        i have some products with high quality and low price that i would like to sell in China. would you help me to trade there?

  • Alex. Tan

    I want to sell my curtain n blind product to whole china how can u help n I’m from Singapore

  • Leon li

    Hello, I’m a buying agent in Food industry (Beer, Water, Meet and scnaks), I need foreign brands contacts, can your agency help?

    • Dolores

      Hello Leon,
      Please contact-us, we will get in touch.

  • Sum Gore

    Great reading this and would like to receive the one mentioned hear about TMALL B2D
    (Tmall Brand to Distributor is a new plateform that link distributors and new brand in China. It is an opportunity for any Brand to directly deal with distributors in China).
    Thanks!

  • Roy Ren

    The most important thing is to develop your buseinsss in china is to register your trademark in China.

  • niala bhatti

    hi,

    i would like to know which is the best platform or store to start with . in china – and whether you can traffic your lead pages the same way? Do these automatically get translated into english?

  • Sonam parajuli

    Hello i an from Nepal, Can you help to sell Pashmina product in China market Please.

  • mohammad

    hello i like export food to china
    any body in china like help me

    • Olivier

      We can help you, contact us to know our Solution and Pricing 🙂

  • mohammad

    hello i am mohammad from iran
    i like export date to china

  • Do you have case studies about how to sell in China ?

    • Olivier

      Of course we have. Drop us an email and we will send you Mat.

  • Dar med g co

    Hello good day
    We,Darabgerd medicinal greenery co ,
    Specialized in some kind of dried herbs and dried fruit 
    We want to sell our products world wide and since our products are popular in china if you can help us for marketing , custom clearance and launching our commodities in this mainland  pls reply me at any time also our company located in Iran and i want to be confident if your firm can fulfill our queries .
    Warmest Regards 

    • Contact me if you would like me to help you sell in the UK.

    • We help you to develop your sells in China.

      We understand your Chinese consumers: their needs and habits.

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