Is Your Magento Store Localized for the Chinese Market?

In just a few short years, China will soar to the position of world’s largest online market. Most businesses, of course, are flocking to this realm of opportunity. Incredibly, however, many will reach the gates with an online store incompatible with local marketplace demands. Even more challenging, China’s online market is developing with lightning speed. Keeping pace means gearing up for today and tomorrow. Magento solution partner Silk Software ensures your e-commerce site satisfies this requirement … and then some. Drawing on its formidable Magento expertise, Silk addresses the following key considerations when developing an e-commerce site for the Chinese market.

Matching the Marketplace – Website text and product information, as well as brand image, must be precisely translated to communicate the right message. Moreover, because of cultural differences, certain consumer expectations will diverge from those of the West. Silk has the expertise and experience to ensure an air-tight marketplace matchup between merchant and consumer.

Site Design – An e-commerce site intended for the Chinese market requires specialized design considerations. For instance, online stores ideally are information-dense, offering abundant text and images. Product pages often are rich with data, whether directly relevant or not, with merchandise images displayed from every conceivable angle. This info-abundance helps build trust in a brand. It also help to justify higher retail prices. As these consumers see it, the more trustworthy the brand, the greater its worth.

Social Adaptation – Many popular Western social networks and multimedia sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are not accessible in China. However, that nation offers equivalents such as Tuduo and Youku. Before entering China with an e-commerce site, all code corresponding to Western networks must be removed and replaced with correct coding. Failing to do so may keep your site from opening.

Checkout Structure – China has its own input fields that distinguish it from those in the West. For instance, One Name (instead of two); Address Information that includes provinces and city districts; Legal Invoices.

These differences are significant. However, they’re only some of the considerations Silk takes into account when developing an e-commerce site for China’s market. Part 2 of this series will reveal others such as Delivery Options and Payment Methods. Coming soon.

The previous blog in this series revealed several key factors impacting website compatibility with the Chinese e-commerce marketplace. Drawing on its formidable Magento expertise, Silk addresses those factors when developing e-commerce sites localized for this nation. Here are several others we consider in every strategy:

Payment Options

Since credit cards aren’t popular in the world of Chinese e-commerce, businesses need an alternative. Don’t look at Paypal. This service is still on the sidelines because it lacks a Chinese banking license. Things may change, however; Paypal currently is working on obtaining the proper licensing. For right now, online stores must plug into substitute online payment services. Among the local alternatives to Paypal are Alipay (by far the most popular), Tenpay, Unionpay, and 99Bill. Unless your online store is integrated with one of these payment gateways, you’ll be way out of the running. Remember, there’s no limit – connect with as many gateways as you please. The more payment options offered, the more potential customers will take an interest in your store. As in the West, reward points and loyalty programs can be popular incentives in China. These incentives, of course, must be properly integrated with localized payment options.

Mobile Responsiveness

Currently, 95% of mobile phones snapped up by Chinese buyers are smartphones. Not surprisingly, more and more online retailers are hungry for mobile responsive e-commerce to accommodate this high saturation. Bear in mind, most online purchases in China are not made with mobile phones…yet. Nevertheless, the devices are getting plenty of action providing customers on-the-go with product info. Chinese consumers are perpetually hungry for information gleaned from online catalogs and other data sources. Only after shoppers know a product top to bottom will they feel prepared for a purchase – which typically takes place when they’re back home. As in the West, mobile sites in China must accommodate bandwidth limitations. Silk will conclude this series on localizing e-commerce sites for the Chinese market in an upcoming post. Be sure to stay connected.

The previous two blogs in this series spotlighted important factors impacting e-commerce in China, and how Silk addresses these factors in the online stores we develop for that market. We also take into account these additional considerations:

PASSING THROUGH THE GREAT FIREWALL OF CHINA

Companies bringing e-commerce to China must contend with a phenomenon known as The Great Firewall of China. Essentially, this formidable barrier is a protective system designed to monitor and curtail traffic attempting to access officially blocked sites. Restricted destinations generally are those delivering content that violates specific rules and regulations. Because the wall can impact virtually any e-commerce site without advanced notice, retailers may want to consider local hosting services. The major advantage of going local is a tremendously minimized risk of encountering The Great Wall. That’s because all information originates in and flows through mainland China, ensuring a restriction-free website that offers greater access and speed to shoppers.

INTEGRATING CUSTOMER SERVICE OPTIONS

Chinese customers typically have higher expectations than do their Western counterparts. These lofty expectations are reflected in the tremendous value they place on the opinions of family and friends — also consulted much more here than in the West. Any e-commerce site aiming to generate profits in China must be in sync with these realities. The live chat is one feature that aligns perfectly with the high-expectation mindset of Chinese e-commerce shoppers. Bear in mind, that nation’s customers expect this pipeline to product info to be accessible 24/7. Retailers who don’t offer a suitable chat option should consider this glaring fact — a significant portion of online purchases take place only after Chinese customers receive suitable live chat feedback. Closely aligned with the live chat option is Issue Resolution. Defective or late-arriving products are major missteps in the eyes of Chinese shoppers. Therefore, an online retailer must offer access to a service staff highly proficient in the art of soothing nerves and correcting mistakes. Failing to provide a suitable conciliatory mechanism is a great way to lose customers and inspire product bashing on the local social networks. Not the best route to improved revenue. Silk Software has the experience and knowledge to address these unique factors in every e-commerce site we develop for the Chinese market. Contact Silk to learn more about how our proven Magento expertise can maximize your online performance in this rapidly-growing market.