Whether your company is an emerging brand or a well established market leader, the first step to success in cross border e-commerce is developing a strategy for on boarding your products on one of the primary e-commerce platforms in China or S.E. Asia. If budget is no object( I know few companies have this luxury!), then establishing a Flagship Store on Tmall, Kaola, or JD would likely be the first and best choice. Unfortunately, most companies are unlikely to commit anywhere from $75,000- $150,000 dollars+ to achieve this objective.
Ok, there must be some other options?
Well, yes and no! Our company, ABC Showcase USA, has developed a program to work with established brand holders to facilitate on boarding either through a Flagship Store or on one of our existing online pop-stores hosted on Kaola.com and other key e-commerce platforms in China and S.E. Asia. The Flagship program is essentially a partnership with the brand holder to manage all aspects of the cross border e-commerce process- store development, logistics, customer services, returns, payment, and in this collaboration the brand holder provides substantial co-op advertising/marketing support*, inventory consignment*, to support brand development in China and/or S.E. Asia.
This type of collaboration makes sense for a well established brand that is prominently selling in U.S. retail( i.e. Costco, Wal-Mart, Department Stores) and has established profile on Amazon and brand owned online store. Smaller companies are likely not to have the same brand profile so ABC’s Pop Store program provides a far lower risk, streamlined on boarding process for emerging brands. Again, all the elements required to start selling through cross border e-commerce are provided. These include: brand registration with Chinese Customs- products must have a registered trademark in the U.S. to sell cross border, development of product listing in accordance with platform requirements, retail pricing, logistics, customer service support, management of returns, and payment collection. The one requirement for companies interested in this service is support of in-country marketing program through Chinese social media. While on boarding is essential, this is only the first step of the cross border process, and does not guarantee sales success online.
The real magic for U.S. and foreign brands comes when the features of the brand resonate with the key buying demographic in China or S.E. Asia( 18-30 year olds, primarily females) . While there might not be a magic formula to guarantee viral exposure for a brand, here are some winning marketing elements:
- Make sure your U.S. social media activities are current, including
Instagram and Facebook
- Incorporate short video introductions, testimonials of your product in your U.S. social media activity
- Whenever possible, harvesting good images, videos and social media posts is a great starting point for China marketing campaigns.
- Find and leverage micro-influencers for your brand; if possible translate these posts into Chinese ( our team can help)
- Open a Wechat account
- Identify relevant brand influencers in China
- Contract with social media advertising companies (our local China team will help vet suitable options)
- Actively manage and review online traffic and analytics to determine marketing impact and ROI (key benefit of our ABC Pop Store Program)
- Take action!
* Co-op Advertising- Even a strong brand in the U.S. will not necessary generate immediate sales on the crowded and competitive e-commerce platforms in China. Ongoing and systematic brand promotion will be required and a clear understanding of expectations must be communicated with brand holder.
*Inventory Consignment- While the prospect of selling to a billion Chinese consumers is unprecedented, the sober reality is pricing for cross border can be tricky. Does your product weigh more than 1KG? If so, you should start considering ways to inventory products in Hong Kong or possibly a bonded warehouse in China. Some new platform options- Tmall- are allowing brand holders to on board on their platform through inventory consignment, both in the U.S. and China.