I’ve worked with hundreds of brands entering China and my number one advice to them is this…

Keep it simple.

1) If you’re starting from scratch in China, focus on things that are inexpensive but produce outsize results.

Relationships are key, and you can’t put a price on them. Spend your time cultivating the right ones and you can make big strides quickly.

Developing strong ties with key partners and influencers will pay off tenfold (and help you avoid costly mistakes along the way.)

2) Spend the time to cover yourself legally. Your trademark must be properly registered in China. It should be an exact mirror of the way Chinese consumers search your product in both Chinese and English.

3) Never, EVER give up control of your IP…don’t authorize or sign away rights to anyone for any reason. Maintaining control is SO MUCH EASIER than fighting to take it back.

Once you have the fundamentals in place, THEN contact operators and look at commandeering resources into a launch.

By keeping it simple from the start you’ll be much better positioned to succeed.

#China #ChinaBusiness #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao #InternationalBusiness #MarketEntry #Advice #KeepItSimple

For those who are new to China, doing business here can be shockingly different.

For those who are new to China, doing business here can be shockingly different.

Add in the current economic uncertainty and it’s like walking through a minefield blindfolded.

In the latest episode of the China Paradigms Podcast, Matthieu (马修) David-Experton of Daxue Consulting and I answer your most urgent questions on China ecommerce.

Here are a few highlights:

👉 The quality of the shopping experience – is it changing?
👉 Rigging the game – building strong professional relationships makes long term sense
👉 Valuable intel – sacrificing a year to learn the market
👉The smallest details matter – best practices for ecommerce today
👉The most surprising successes (and failures) that I’ve witnessed in China

Listen now on:

▶ Youtube: https://lnkd.in/gKtwrMK
▶ Apple Podcast: https://lnkd.in/gwbeV_n
▶ Spotify: https://lnkd.in/gdZBzzb
▶ Soundcloud: https://lnkd.in/gDbfeGx

#ChinaBusiness #China #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao #Podcast #InternationalBusiness #BestPractices

The Two Changes to China Business That Are Here to Stay Post COVID-19

We are no strangers to digital transformation. As an ecommerce operator, our team was already using many of the tools later forced upon the public during quarantine.

While many changes are only temporary, there are 2 that I expect to stick around post-COVID:

1) There will be a permanent shift to online engagement.

Businesses that were heavily invested in on-site trade were forced to integrate marketing activity into digital formats & push transactions from offline to online.

After getting over the initial shock and fear, many businesses dropped offline footprints altogether. Since China’s retail environment is tenuous & expensive to maintain, digital will become the default entry point…a conversion that’s long overdue.

2) Transactional marketing is here to stay.

Livestream has become THE thing by combining the experience of in-store shopping with being a guest on a game show.

Compared to static product pages on Tmall…no contest.

Live streaming is very personal. It’s entertaining…and it can drive sales and magnify awareness.

The risk to the live-streaming community is the same that Alibaba faced when Taobao first launched: a crisis of legitimacy. Do your researching before signing a KOL to avoid being scammed.

#China #ChinaBusiness #Tmall #Taobao #Ecommerce #Changes #COVID19 #Retail #NewRetail #Livestreaming

I finally found a pattern in China that is the same as in other markets. You can see it everywhere. 

I finally found a pattern in China that is the same as in other markets. You can see it everywhere. 

We call it “success” and it is easy to visualize.

Think of it as a pot of water. Until it’s HOT, nothing happens. When that heat reaches a tipping point, you see tiny bubbles.

Then, all at once, you see thousands of them or tens of thousands. They get bigger and bigger until the entire pot boils over.

The curve is ALWAYS the same. Short or long. Online or off. B2B or B2C. Makes no difference.

…So why does every SINGLE commercial director expect “incremental” progress during a launch?

They treat a start up in China as if it is a well-established, mature business.

Never happens this way. It isn’t natural.

Post launch outcomes are UNPREDICTABLE AT BEST and most likely follow the curve shown.

Better yet, we have clients who insist on monthly breakdowns. Then try to hold us accountable.


Business planning (it seems) is based on a fairytale. Check out this 5 year pro forma “expectation” we got from a brand recently…

…I laughed!

Success isn’t incremental in China or ANYWHERE, so why use silly “outdated” KPIs to evaluate performance or measure progress?

They aren’t helpful.

A better use of time would be managing talent that specializes in “tipping point solutions.”

#China #ChinaBusiness #Success #Tmall #Taobao #InternationalBusiness

In China, only 1 in 20 online stores ever do more than 1 million Euro in sales.

In China, only 1 in 20 online stores ever do more than 1 million Euro in sales.

When you include failures and false starts, the real figure is more like 1 in 10,000 (or even 20,000).

Given the high expectations of brands that enter China, that fact is rather sobering.

The cost to run an e-commerce operation in China is HIGHER than in Europe.

Even 1 million Euro GMV isn’t profitable for brands in most categories. In denim, for example, you need AT LEAST 3 to break even.

So it always amazes me how LITTLE strategic planning is done by the people responsible for the success of those projects.

Sure, they may pay a naming consultant, talk to agencies or spend a little time checking out competition…but they’re neglecting what REALLY matters.

If you are a brand, a simple focus on the key relationships that drive success can dramatically improve your odds.

If you are honest and practical, these questions may haunt your dreams:

  1. Does your brand have traction?
  2. Do you have the right resources?
  3. Is your position defendable?
  4. Can you keep up with China’s intensity?
  5. Can you do it at “China speed”?

If you answered “no” or “not sure” to ANY of the above, push pause and address the problem before you move forward.

#China #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao #Failure #Success #InternationalBusiness

Is winning in China only about “the lowest of the low” or the “newest of the new”?

Is winning in China only about “the lowest of the low” or the “newest of the new”?

In my experience, the answer is a definite NO.

Having the “lowest of low” prices or the “newest of new” products may work. But so does just about ANYTHING that gives you a defendable position.

You can have many. You can make them an integral part of your business. Your brand’s DNA can be a genuine FORTRESS of competitive advantages.

Many brands have unstoppable supply chains with an exceptional variety of trendy designs at accessible prices (e.g. IKEA in home goods or Uniqlo in “faster” fashion)

I just talked with a super successful US fashion retailer stocking 800 brands and more than 500,000 SKUs that change DAILY!

…who can compete with THAT?

Others make quality, scarcity, accessibility and exclusivity their stock-in-trade.

This works WONDERS in China (e.g. Rolex “green” label, or Dainese in high performance racing gear).

Still others own the commodity itself (e.g. Australian cattle). It really doesn’t matter how you do it. The bottom line is that you need to get it done.

Because the rewards for those that hit their stride are big. And their success has nothing to do with being cheap or new (or both.)

#China #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao #CompetitiveAdvantage