Unlike the rest of the world, China has not submitted to the hegemony of Western digital platforms like Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Ebay, etc. It preferred to develop its own digital ecosystem by first drawing inspiration from its counterparts, then by developing and adapting them to developments in the Chinese market …
Read in this article, all the e-Commerce marketplaces in China.
Alibaba the pioneer of Chinese e-Commerce
If the creation of the Alibaba group in 1999 by Jack Ma was the first step in the E-Commerce industry, the progress and development of the Chinese ecosystem really started in 2003 with the creation of Taobao and Tmall which are today the Chinese leaders in E-Commerce (alongside JD.com). The Chinese leader’s volume and sales value far exceed those of Western leaders. For Single’s Day 2018 (November 11), Alibaba broke all records by selling $ 30.8 billion worth of products in just 24 hours.
Chinese online sales platforms are very specific and are mainly based on social networks merging with E-Commerce services.
E-Commerce is growing at such a speed, how does retail survive this evolution?
Simply thanks to O2O (Online to Offline) strategies which allow traffic to be driven on digital platforms to physical platforms using coupons, gamification, special offers, etc. Chinese E-Commerce leaders are inspiring and successfully develop new strategies to advance E-Commerce. So what are the latest development trends in China?
1 – Buying becomes fun
Buying becomes entertainment, it becomes adapted and specific to each person thanks to the CRM integrated in the applications. WeChat’s QR codes have made it possible to digitize retail spaces, restaurants where it is possible to scan a code to obtain a reduction on his note, for example.
Thanks to geolocation, it is possible to receive a push message on your mobile from this last store where you found this pretty gray sweater which is now on sale. The use of WeChat mini program makes any Application accessible and efficient for online sales.
2 – Digitization of small retail structures
All small stores struggling to attract people now have their solution thanks to the Chinese giant Alibaba and its initiative “Integrated Retail” dating from 2018. The concept is simple, to generate visits, small stores have access to a database created by Alibaba which contains demographic and sociological data of the surrounding population, allowing them to adapt their products and their stocks.
Store owners use the platform to order Alibaba products through an app. This same platform gives them insight into what customers are buying and uses analytics to help them with inventory management and resupply strategies.
Ling Shou Tong is redefining the traditional supply chain into an efficient digital network. This is part of a larger plan called “New Retail”, which is part of Alibaba’s strategy to develop a new economic infrastructure combining online and offline operations in China.
3 – Alibaba pop-up stores
Still in the O2O strategy dynamic, Alibaba has created pop-up stores enabling online and offline purchasing to be combined. These pop-up stores display reduced-quantity items that can be purchased locally, but other items equipped with chips in front of touch screens allow the product to be found on Tmall and / or Taobao shopping platforms. So, for customers who want to get a real overview of the product without cluttering up for the rest of the day, this is perfect.
4 – “Live” purchases
Live video streaming is an undisputed trend in China, whether on social networks or E-Commerce platforms. More and more platforms are bending to this new trend and adding this functionality to their site / APP as Taobao had done allowing KOLs (key opinion leaders) to share their purchases with their community directly from Taobao.
In this context, Alibaba in 2016 had set up a fashion show exhibiting major brands such as Guerlain, Pandora, Tag Heuer, etc. During this “live” parade, users could have direct access to the products on the platform, allowing them to make the purchase immediately.
5- Gamification of applications and websites
Gamification is a great way to engage users in the buying process, they play and eventually they earn discounts on products they may have intended to buy. This strategy is increasingly common in China. Pinduoduo even made it its mode of operation, if users want to buy a product they can contact friends to buy in lot but they can also play the lottery to be able to win coupons, or even a complete product.
In 2017, Alibaba launched its own game, on a different scale. “Catch the Cat” asked users to look for cats (Tmall mascots) in the points of sale of several brand sponsors of the game, pushing buyers to go to the store (another O2O strategy!), For each cat caught one promotion was given.
These significant changes in the digital sector are not negligible but take an enormous amount of time to be implemented in the rest of the world. The Chinese are very receptive and adapt easily to new things, which is not the case everywhere.
These changes are taking place in particular since the creation of Alibaba’s “New Retail” plan, which makes it possible to create a model combining online and offline while keeping the best aspects of both forms of retail.
Alibaba does not believe that the future rests solely on e-commerce, but rather on the digitalization of all forms of retail (hence the name “New Retail”). From the digitalization of neighborhood grocery stores to the implementation of digital popup stores in malls, Alibaba is on all fronts and is taking charge of the future of retail and e-commerce in China.