For a number of years, retail experts have been talking about the economic opportunities in the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). But along with the possibilities, these same experts have also been quick to recognize market entry challenges. Take China: e- retailers have been reluctant to deal with linguistic, cultural, and governmental barriers. But that hesitancy is already changing fast.
Power in numbers
Not only is China the world’s most populous country, but it also has the most Internet users. Experts predict that China’s Internet population will exceed 600 million people in 2013 – all potential e-commerce consumers for e-retailers. It’s true that China has a complicated Internet censorship and filtering system which can slow things down, which is an important issue for it comes to SEO marketing. However, new Communist party leader Xi Jinping is working hard to convey an image of change in China, particularly when it comes to economic development. Further, as inexpensive smartphones with good cameras and 3G connectivity continue to proliferate, China is expected to have several hundred million smartphone users by the end of 2013 – all of them eager for a streamlined, mobile shopping experience in their native language.
Lust for luxury items
Studies indicate that the rising number of upper-middle-class male shoppers in China is showing greater interest in luxury segments. Global management consulting firm Bain & Company recently reported that between 2005 and 2009, the luxury goods market for men in China grew by 48 percent. Accessories have become the core category in personal luxury goods – for both men and women. For the first time, retailers doing business in China noted that leather goods and shoes have become the largest piece of the market, now at 27 percent of sales for 2012. This is definitely a trend that brands should keep in mind when planning for 2013.
Meeting the in-language need
With so much change and growth in electronic tool usage in China, e-retailers must be poised to meet the growing demand for personalized online shopping experiences to claim their share of that immense market segment. Using the consumer’s preferred language is the foundation for market entry success—in any culture. It was the key driver for one luxury watch retailer, New York-based Ashford.com, when they launched a translated and localized Chinese shopping site in late 2012. Ashford leveraged Translations.com to help broaden its customer-facing presence in China. The first day Ashford.com’s translated Chinese language site launched, the company noted a 500 percent increase in unique online visitors. Based on the success of Ashford.com’s initial efforts, the company hopes to expand its reach further into China and other parts of Asia to provide a successful localized shopping experience for customers.
Global brands are reevaluating the Chinese opportunity. As they explore market entry in 2013, e-tailers must plan for outreach that is personalized and localized, as well mobile-friendly and tuned into the modern Chinese consumer, who is ready to wield his purchasing power online.