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Magento For China: How Can E-Commerce Businesses Leverage Magento in China? 

Posted in E-commerce on September 18th 2020
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Vice President and Co-founder at IT Consultis

This is an ultimate guide about Magento for China. In this guide, you will learn why Magento is critical in China, and how the eCommerce system in China is different. 

Just briefly, this post will cover the following areas: 

  1. China eCommerce system

  2. What drives traffic to eCommerce sites in China? 

  3. Chinese shopping platforms

  4. Ecommerce payment options in China

  5. Ecommerce marketing in China 

  6. What is Magento

  7. Why should you use Magento 

  8. Why is Magento the best for Ecommerce in China

  9. The overview of Magento in China

So if you'd want to start an eCommerce store in China, this post will be quite helpful. That said, let’s dive right in. 

 

China eCommerce System 

For most eCommerce businesses that have tried to penetrate the Chinese market, it has become quite a hurdle to match China's e-commerce landscape because of the different payment methods and customer user behavior. China uses a mobile payment system and drives traffic through search engines like Baidu and social platforms such as WeChat to meet the local customers' needs. The private traffic ecosystem here is very different with Mini Programs and Apps dominating the market and where website are only a nice to have. But we will see that adopting headless and Omnichannel is the best way to move it forward in China. 

We have outlined these four components to help you understand the Chinese eCommerce ecosystem.

What Drives Traffic to Ecommerce Experiences in China? 

Usually, Google is the primary source of traffic outside China. Below are some of the ways eCommerce sites in China drive traffic: 

  • Search Engine - the most popular search engines in China are Baidu, 360 search, and Sogou. 

  • Social Media - Social media equally plays a role in the significance of eCommerce in China. Currently, the most preferred social platforms are WeChat, Weibo, QQ, and Douban. 

  • Online video sites - Video content has risen over the years, and direct links to your eCommerce store can drive you a lot of traffic. Some of the popular video sites in China include iQiyi, Youku, and Tudou. 

  • Map/navigation -You can now search and find offline stores with Chinese mobile applications, such as A MAP that integrates with Tmall.

Chinese eCommerce ecosystem

Source: 2018年度艾媒《电商市场与发展报告》,  EC Revenue / Total Revenue 

What Platforms Do Chinese Use to Shop to? 

Because China is a massive market with tons of competitive opportunities, the answer to this question will depend on eCommerce development strategies. 

  • Public Traffic or Fast Growth Strategy, which leads to high costs and increased growth. 

  • Private Traffic or Organic Growth Strategy, resulting in lower costs and growth. 

The first strategy pairs well with marketplaces like Tmall. If the brand is renowned for Chinese customers and has a reputable user base with enough budget, it can benefit from Tmall sales. Here we are speaking about Public Traffic, as it is led towards marketplaces.

But if the brand is still new and would love to explore a little before striving into the competitive market, a stand-alone website - bringing Private Traffic - can be a good bet. By customizing the site to meet the business's different needs, the brand is set to go. The most critical part is to generate followers and gain ownership of your customers' info from the marketplaces. 

2 options to sell in China

If you want to start an eCommerce business in China, you have two options:  join an eCommerce platform or create a marketplace you will grow into a reputable brand. Let's dig deep into each of the options.

1. Marketplace platforms 

The current frontrunners are Tmall and JD. In 2016, Tmall proved too smart for its competition, with a whopping 56.6% in retail sales. JD came second with nearly half of what Tmall garnered (24.7%). 

However, some limitations come with joining eCommerce marketplaces. First, joining these platforms costs money, and secondly, you don’t have access to customer data. Finally, you may be as well disappointed not to get all the customization your brand deserves. 

2. Private traffic

Brands can do even better by building their own website and Wechat Mini Program.Through these platforms, they will gather their own Private Traffic, and many advantages come with it. First, it is the opportunity to imagine their own universe their visitors will dive into. Brands can thus personalize their store according to their customers' journey, their values  and their products. In addition, it is the opportunity to gather data that is going to be useful for decision making, and constantly improving the user experience.

Now that you know the Chinese eCommerce platform options let’s now see what payment methods Chinese shoppers can use. 

Ecommerce Payment Methods in China 

Mobile payments are the norm in China, unlike credit cards in the West. Shoppers can connect their payment accounts with their bank accounts, and save time for manually entering their account details when they want to shop. 

Currently, the two most used mobile payments in China are Alipay and WeChat.

Alipay is the most used mobile payment service globally. According to a report released in 2018, Alipay boasts of 55.32% of mobile payment customers in China. You can link your bank accounts and enjoy credit card payment services for free. 

WeChat is the second most popular digital wallet in China suitable for eCommerce businesses. With WeChat Pay, customers only need to give their WeChat payment code and buy items in 1-2 seconds, thus increasing efficiency and saving time. 

Ecommerce Marketing in China 

Social media platforms still play a critical role in purchasing decisions, and especially in eCommerce. In China, shoppers use WeChat, which is the largest social platform in China. Wechat is not only a messaging app and includes plenty of other tools : a wallet to pay,  Mini Programs, ...

WeChat operates just like any other social platform. You can post information and promotional content using your WeChat account. Additionally, you can post video and image content to push your eCommerce business to your audience. You can even build your own Mini Program and start selling via WeChat.

The best of all is that 50 percent of WeChat users visit the platform every 90 minutes. So you are more likely to reach and convert more people with your content. Even more, you can see your target audience’s data like location, gender, and age. 

And among that, what is Magento ?

What is Magento?

Magento is an eCommerce space built using open source as well as Enterprise technology with the biggest community globally of merchants and developers (for dedicated ECommerce experiences). It offers Chinese shoppers an excellent shopping cart system. Additionally, Magento offers users with search engine optimization functionality, robust marketing systems, and various catalog tools. 

You’ll need a front-end Magento developer if you want your store to look appealing to the users. Likewise, you will need a back-end Magento developer to add unique features to match your store's needs. You will need to ensure to build an Omnichannel experience with your Magento back end powering your website, your Mini Programs (WeChat, Alipay, Douyin) and retail experiences.

At IT Consults, we assign the best developers to guarantee the success of your Magento project in China. Contact us to know more.

Why Should I Use Magento? 

The Chinese e-commerce system varies from others in two different ways: user behavior and payment mode. 

Unlike other online business environments, eCommerce in China uses a mobile payment system and drives traffic through search engines like Baidu and social platforms like WeChat. An eCommerce website or WeChat Mini Program in China built with Magento is totally capable of handling this.

Magento ecommerce China

Below are other reasons why you need Magento for your eCommerce store in China.

High Customization

Magento is flexible, and you can customize it to create a unique shopping store that will suit your shoppers. Magento developers in China can customize websites to match the local customs by availing the local languages and integrating social media platforms, such as WeChat. Similarly, you can include and customize payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Making your Shopping Cart User Experience as close as possible to Tmall and JD 

Magento flexibility combined with the know-how of excellent Magento developers can ensure that the learning curve for the users of your website will be as flawless as possible. ITC for instance has been able to develop a User Experience as close as possible to Tmall. The results are spectacular in terms of conversion. 

Ensuring the most important functionalities are there for your Mini Program and website 

We have listed 18 of them that we will develop in another article. Social logins, social payments, Fapiao creation, Coupons, Livestream display, Catalogue Management, specific category display…. 

You Can Choose Your Hosting Service

There are a ton of hosting services you can choose from and it is your prerequisite to select the best one for your business. Some of the best web hosting services in China include Aliyun, Tencent Cloud, AWS, Azure, Huawei Cloud amongst others. 

Responsive Mobile

Mobile responsiveness plays a critical role in the Chinese eCommerce space. According to a QuestMobile report, a Chinese user spends in average 6.2 hours online on mobile devices. It corresponds to 1,8 day a week spent only on mobile phones. 

This is why your eCommerce store needs to be mobile responsive in China. Good news,  Magento has incorporated the HTML5 to help improve the user experience when shopping. 

Even though Mini Programs are becoming the Go to choice, having a Mobile or responsive website will still be crucial during social sharing for instance of so called H5 in China. 

Reliable and Secure

Magento is very popular. You can get any information you need about it. Similarly, there is a community of designers, shopkeepers, developers, among others, who are out to make sure your life is seamless in the eCommerce industry. 

Adobe Magento even ranks number 1 eCommerce platform according to Gartner. Gartner is a global research and advisory company organizing each year the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce . This ranking rewards the most viable vendors to help leaders supporting digital commerce. Platforms are evaluated on their ability to execute and completeness of vision.

Easy Multi-platform Integration

You can also integrate multiple add-ons like Google Analytics, Wechat Pay, Baidu Maps, among others, with Magento without any hassle. The best of all is that you can modify these add-ons without any restrictions. 

Magento being a leader in the field has seen many integrations already set for the Chinese market by the vast majority of developers. 

Better Speed

Page loading time is critical for the Chinese eCommerce. Chinese shoppers are used to having very good and fast access to the Internet, everywhere they go. 

According to ApacheBooster, 46 percent of users who visit a slow loading website do not return. Fortunately, Magento has managed to build the fastest eCommerce stores, engineered to serve users better and faster. Furthermore, a delay with half a second decreases the conversion rate by 7 percent. This is a clear indication that you need a fast loading eCommerce site, and Magento can offer you that. 

SEO-Friendly

Finally, Magento features Magento SEO. With Magento SEO, you’ll get a ton of features, including: 

  • SEO-friendly URLs

  • Sitemaps

  • Layered navigation

  • Product Title/ descriptions

  • Keywords

  • Meta tags

  • Meta descriptions

Magento is always up-to-date, and there’s no need to worry about the ranking factors that keep changing every time. It offers users with URL structure implementation suggestions that can boost your site SEO.

This feature is of course compatible with Chinese search engines, increasing for example your traffic coming through Baidu. 

Why Magento for China? 

Localized checkout flow

Superfast speed, easy to integrate platform, and distraction-free are a must-have for a smooth checkout process. And because China’s eCommerce is eccentric, copying and pasting the default checkout into China is not recommended. 

That said, below are some of the China-specific elements we develop to help confine your Magento eCommerce in China:

  1. China names take a different format than the Western format, so you need to fill out your full names in one field rather than separately. Using one field is more convenient than the format - First name/Last name.  

  2. The Chinese address formatting instead of Western formatting. For example, the Chinese address takes the format: Province - City - District - detailed address. Additionally, Chinese address formatting allows customers to filter their addresses and automatically select their Province/City/District rather than typing.  

  3. If you’re planning on running Magento across China’s eCommerce border, then ID check is a must. More often, China eCommerce buyers are prompted to authenticate their 18-digit Chinese ID code to affect cross-border goods' checkout processes. But not to worry, we’ve developed a hassle-free ID checkbox to facilitate the checkout process. 

  4. It’s no longer secret that Chinese shoppers rely on product reviews, so we’ve implemented product reviews with pictures in Magento. 

  5. Because Debit/Credit card payment is rarely preferred, billing address during checkout is not necessary. 

  6. The shipping status check allows buyers to monitor their shipping status all through their destinations. For efficiency, we integrate Magento with a dependable logistics interface in China to ensure that the tracking information is up to date whenever a customer signs in into their account. 

  7. Back then, Magento was not compatible with Chinese characters when exporting orders, shipment labels, and invoices, but we made it possible. 

Mobile-centric 

Tons of eCommerce websites based in the Western world encourage the use of emails when signing up for accounts. Upon registering with your email address, rest assured to receive notifications based on orders, payment process, or even promotion. However, Chinese online users rarely use emails, which may translate to low open rates when sending email-based notifications to your Chinese customers. 

Fortunately, we’ve found an alternate solution to your Magento eCommerce in China : mobile phone number. Mobile messaging has always been the ultimate mode of communication medium in China compared to email. More often, your customers will feel secure when they receive a phone verification code during the signup process as they are guaranteed to receive the message.  With most platforms you will also have a social login like in Alipay and WeChat.

Upgrade in payments 

As previously said, Western sites provide three options for eCommerce payment - debit cards, credit cards, and online payments like PayPal. Meanwhile, Chinese businesses and websites usually offer two payment options, which include Alipay and WeChat Pay. To attract and convert a Chinese audience you should thus use these payment methods on your website, with the QR payment function precisely developed for Chinese online users.   

Since Magento lacks China-based payment options, WeChat and Alipay come in handy to ensure Chinese customers are well covered. Other notable Chinese-based options include Union Pay, Baidu Wallet, MiPay, among other online payments.  

When your customer checks out via desktop, a specific QR will pop on the customer's screen to complete the payment. Similarly, the payment button will redirect the customer to AliPay or WeChat mobile app when they use a mobile phone to browse through the eCommerce site. 

WeChat integration 

Integrating your social media accounts with the eCommerce website will not only enhance audience engagement but also drive organic traffic to your site. Today, WeChat is the most popular social media platform, with over 1 million Monthly Active users (MAU). So when integrated with Magento, rest assured to attract a significant number of Chinese buyers to your online store. Below are the benefits of WeChat integration:

  • WeChat login: When integrated to Magento, users can easily access your Magento eCommerce websites using their WeChat IDs. Apart from that, your eCommerce business will also access users' data based on their WeChat profiles. This includes WeChat username, profile picture, gender, location, and more details. 

  • WeChat messaging: Once you've generated followers into your WeChat account, you can start sending promotional messages, including shipping status for your customers' orders. 

  • Account binding: If your customers initially register with mobile and later sign in using WeChat, the system will automatically detect and bind the two account details (WeChat account and mobile phone number). This enhances the authenticity and transparency of each customer.  

Overview of Magento In China 

Which companies are using Magento?

Tons of Magento eCommerce sites are running well in China. Such include IKEA, GAP,  among others. Magento is a performant solution for big companies looking for scalable and personalized solutions. 

Magento China website Ecommerce list of brand

What should you do to localize Magento for China?  

While China's eCommerce culture deviates from other eCommerce platforms, standard Magneto websites may fail to meet China-specific localized needs. But not to worry because IT Consultis helps tons of businesses integrate with the China ecosystem organically using Magneto 2. Since then, it has always been the ultimate key to sustainable economic growth.  

We’ve been focussing on localizing Magento for China to enhance users’ shopping processes such as:

  • Developing a mobile-centric strategy

  • Integrating social media channels to meet the needs of Chinese shoppers

  • Logistics and payment methods

  • China-specific checkout processes

What About your Mini Program Project ? 

IT Consultis is a digital agency in Shanghai, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City strongly committed to researching, creating and executing the best digital solutions, ranging from strategic projects to entirely tailor-made web developments, Mini Programs,appse-commerce websites, and in-store experiences.

IT Consultis helps you build excellence in your digital transformation strategy in ChinaContact us to know more.

Send us an email at : aurelien.rigart@it-consultis.com