In China, 90% of ecommerce is done via marketplaces, and Alibaba’s Tmall has a 50% share of that. But it doesn’t mean U.S. merchants selling there should shy away for creating a localized site for consumers in China.
Speaking in June at IRCE 2014, Clarins Group Vice President of Digital Ecommerce Americas Han Wen showed how its sales in China soared after it launched a localized site for consumers there. From September 2012 to August 2013, the Clarins localized ecommerce site saw a 500% increase in online growth.
The localized site, Wen explained, was a branding and marketing opportunity for Clarins. The site is not just translated for the Chinese customer. It also incorporates elements such as payment preferences preferred by the Chinese consumer, QR codes and, for the mobile user, store locators.
It was also a way to build trust with the Chinese consumer. For example, Wen said the ecommerce site includes a page that shows customers the entire picking and packing process involved once an order is received. This helps the Chinese consumer put a face on the “outside” brand.
“With Tmall in particular, it’s a marketplace that is really controlled by that entity, and there is limited opportunity to create a brand experience there,” said Rob Garf, Vice President of Industry Strategy with Demandware.
Garf said Clarins and other luxury clients on the Demandware platform are looking at a hybrid approach. By that, they use Tmall as a sales channel, and more importantly an acquisition channel, but supplement that with a branded site to be able to start interacting directly with that consumer and know who that consumer is and start to serve them directly.
“While the cultural perspective is to shop in Tmall, that is likely to shift in time as more consumers become familiar and more comfortable shopping with the branded sites and ultimately want that brand experience and selection that the brand sites offer,” Garf said.