Do you talk to the people who buy from you?
Not in a silly questionnaire or a few half-hearted interviews.
I mean every SINGLE person who bought. You could tell me their exact path to purchase?
Start to finish?
If you were being honest with yourself, I bet you don’t. Or at least not nearly as often, or as thoroughly as you COULD.
You’d be surprised what kind of treasures await.
We do this for every brand we run.
It certainly isn’t the most fun way to spend your time or your team’s…
…but isn’t 250% growth worth it?
#CustomerService #China #Tmall #Taobao #PathToPurchase #Awareness #CustomerRelations #ChineseConsumers #Consumers #InternationalBusiness #UnderstandingYourCustomers #Activation #Brand #Growth #Results #Sales #ChinaBusiness #Ecommerce
Your work has been terrific… BUT we’re going with someone who’s a “better fit”
No one EVER wants to be on the receiving end of these words. Unfortunately, we were recently in that very position, receiving notice from a client who had decided to move on.
I have to say, we were taken aback.
Their store was doing quite well… even showing massive improvements in sales. Tmall loved the brand and was actively supporting them and helping them to gain more exposure.
We had to figure out the real reason behind it, so I sat down with our accounts team to analyze the situation in detail.
The conclusion as this…
We failed to build chemistry with the brand. Most meetings were done remotely, we were passive in sharing opinions, constantly asking the brand’s permission to take action, and we didn’t have a good personality fit with the brand manager.
This was night and day when compared to brands of similar size and store performance who absolutely LOVE us.
The bottom line… chemistry matters (often even more than performance.)
#China #ChinaBusiness #InternationalBusiness #Relationships #Chemistry #Personality #Fit #Performance #Sales #Tmall #Taobao #Ecommerce #Fired #Agency #PersonalityFit #Decisions #DecidingFactor #Analysis
At the height of the crisis, Forest Cabinet (a local cosmetics brand) was forced to shut down approximately half of their 300+ stores. We’ve all heard this story countless times over the past several months, right?
But what this brand did was SO DIFFERENT than what others faced with this situation were doing…I was blown away.
They trained 1600 of their employees to host live streaming sessions. Even the FOUNDER of the company hosted a live streaming session….which resulted in selling around 400,000 units.
As a result, now ecommerce accounts for around 90% of their sales. And most of it is done in house.
I’ve seen this shift across several categories over the past several months. Where using e-commerce or livestream had traditionally been thought of as an additional channel or way of amplifying marketing or increasing awareness…it is now being used as a primary commercial channel. Consumers are now much more likely to purchase because at this point it’s become mature and acceptable and trustworthy.
#China #ChinaBusiness #Ecommerce #Transition #Adapt #Change #InternationalBusiness #Results #Livestream #Livestreaming
These cases sometimes end up in the supreme court of Alibaba where the system isn’t perfect. Here are a few of the trials we’ve been put through:
-A customer returned an item that was clearly not what we had sold them. He asked for a refund and we refused. He then escalated the dispute in Taobao. The jury sided with the customer. We lost the money and the original item.
-Another customer reached out to customer service well after the 7-day guarantee period. They complained that there was a problem with the product’s fabric. When we received the returned item, we realized that they had made a cut with a knife so that they can return the item free of shipping (buyer doesn’t have to pay shipping for returning defective items).
It gets better though…
-In one incident, a customer purchased about 3000 RMB worth of goods and then complained to customer service saying that they got charged 9000 instead. He showed a screenshot of the 9000RMB transaction on Alipay and demanded an immediate refund.
As our team responded saying we need time to verify with Alipay, he left us some strong words together with a negative review. A definite blow to the store’s ability to rank. We soon confirmed that there was indeed nothing wrong with the payment. We had our design team investigate the screenshot and confirmed that it had been retouched with Photoshop. Thankfully Tmall sided with us and blocked the invalid negative review.
You need to be able to take multiple hits to survive ecommerce in China. The customer is always right – even the bad ones – and you are always guilty until proven innocent.
There’s a new breed of fraudsters growing on Tmall and its not the sellers.
Taobao’s 7-day guaranteed right of return has given tremendous power to malicious shoppers.
Last summer, a Taobao seller surnamed Li was happy to receive a large order of 18 items worth several thousand RMB. But 10 days later, that customer asked for a full refund saying she didn’t like the clothes she had bought.
Mr. Li refused because it had already been more than 7 days. The customer then escalated the dispute within Taobao and somehow got the platform to side with her.
Mr. Li reluctantly issued the refund. But the situation was too strange so he decided to investigate himself. He went on the customer’s social media and found many pictures of her wearing the clothes from his store in TIBET. This blew his lid off and he went straight to the media with his story.
Usually he would accept late returns even for damaged goods in fear of bad reviews. One bad review can hurt the store’s future earning potential so most Taobao sellers take the occasional hit.
But this one crossed the line for Mr. Li.
And the netizens of China agreed. Soon the customer came out with a public apology begging people to leave her and her family alone.
In a way Mr. Li was vindicated, but Taobao’s less than perfect dispute resolution system leaves many honest sellers out in the cold….
Especially when malicious shoppers band together to form “Mutual Help Groups.”
It starts off with person A buying an item. After using it for 2 months with visible signs of wear, person B helps person A buy the exact same item again. Within 7 days, person B returns the old item person A had already used for 2 months.
These “help groups” enable its members to exchange a product they had already used to a brand new one… or enjoy it for as long as they want until they pass it on to someone else in the group while they get a full refund. The groups enable them to repeat this behavior forever while making it almost impossible for sellers to fight back.
What can or should Alibaba do to combat this?
I saw an interview trumpeting the recent success of AllBirds on Alizila, the English mouthpiece of the Alibaba group.
This brand is one of America’s DTC darlings. And they DESERVE their trailblazing reputation.
Even in China, it is hard to argue with the success of their launch on Tmall…
…that is, unless you look closer and see that their success was guaranteed well BEFORE launch.
Overnight success is RARE in China. And this brand is no exception.
AllBirds global buzz spilled into China more than ONE YEAR before launch and hit a tipping point in March 2018 as seen here.
So before you get excited about a land of unicorns, remember that you need VERY fertile soil.
With many of my family and friends still in the US, and a network of clients across Europe I find myself fielding outlandish questions on a daily basis. It seems that many in the West have taken a negative view of China in light of the recent global crisis.
While I don’t share their sentiments, it does make me wonder whether these negative attitudes towards China will be harmful to trade.As we all know, China is nearly unbeatable as a sourcing partner. But…decoupling of supply chains from China has been going on for several years now. Costs have crept up and most of the larger manufacturers have set up factories outside of China.
However, many of these businesses are still handling some portion of their production in China. I don’t think you can really detach from China as the main supply chain for a lot of things. They simply do it better than most countries.
With this in mind, I don’t see short term negative attitudes impacting long term trade in a significant way. There will be a lot of talk about it from the West, and China will likely have to give a little to retain its revenues. But, I still don’t think Western companies are going to start manufacturing things at home any time soon.
#ChinaBusiness #InternationalBusiness #Trade #Manufacturing #Factories #Export