While China remains a complex market for many to tackle, including quite a few key challenges doing businesses with China, many international companies, including some Australian ones, are still experiencing solid success with this dynamic market.
If you believe your business/products/services can bring value to Chinese customers, it’s best to learn how to handle the challenges and manage the risks, like the successful companies.
So what are the secrets of these successful companies? From my experiences in international businesses involving Chinese market, I have learnt four common and essential traits for success.
1. Get Up to speed with the latest China e-commerce dynamics (it could change frequently and quickly)
Research. Get associated with the organizations that provide valuable resources, training, information, and network opportunities to learn from the experts and people who are in the industry. Try to understand the Chinese consumers and its many sub-segments, learn about WeChat, understand the basics of exporting, get onto Tmall.com. If you are in Australia, find the right organizations who provide up-to-date information.
2. Find reliable partner(s), to navigate through regulatory, commercial, cultural, language hurdles to get started. Ensure alignment.
While learning Chinese and fully grasping the gist of Chinese regulation/business practices will definitely put you in a uniquely advantageous positon, it’s time consuming and not always possible. Almost 100% of successful executives tell me that finding reliable partners who can guide you through the maze became really the starting point of their success with China.
Typically, reliable partners have hands-on professional track record in both Australia and China, with relevant connections and strong insights in China, and are capable of relating to the unique challenges that Australian businesses are facing.
Once you find such partner(s), hold on to them! Value them! Like many things in China, the right connection at the right time can open many, many, doors. You want them to be part of the ongoing success in China.
3. Start from Australia
When things look overwhelming, it’s easy just to be overwhelmed, and … do nothing. Facing the changing regulations, for example, in cross-border e-commerce, I hear businesses say ‘wait till things settle’. Well, unfortunately, like many things in China, things rarely settle. Instead, things evolve. You need to find smaller steps to start with.
One way to start is to target 400+K Chinese living locally in Australia. Thanks to the popular social media, such as WeChat, it’s a group of people who presents a real opportunity for smart targeted marketing and sales efforts. What’s more important, they have a vast network back in China, and they share back and forth the information (including Australian products and services) on WeChat seamlessly. The success with companies like Blackmores is a great demonstration of such philosophy. I am currently helping some Australian companies in doing exactly that. Starting from Australian market also provides valuable marketing data in understanding the type of products/marketing activities/channel work better with Chinese customers, and in understanding the target consumer behaviour. With absolutely minimum investment, it’s such a solid first step towards much bigger potential.
4. Be Flexible
Many companies assume that what’s working in Australia is going to work in China. You may sell successfully through retailers in Australia, but you many want to consider wholesalers or e-commerce in China. Your top selling products in Australia may not work with Chinese customers. Facebook marketing may have worked extremely well to market to your Australian customers, but with Facebook blocked in China, you will need to know which social media works the best with Chinese audience (WeChat will soon be one of your new best friends). Data and logic may have worked wonder in presenting to potential audience, but you may find emotion and the ability to related to social events are far more powerful with Chinese.
China is a complex market. China is a changing market. But with the right resource, knowledge, partners, and most importantly the right strategy, it’s a market that provides potential for enormous return and satisfaction, no matter in which market segments you find yourself in. Enjoy the ride!
Looking at reaching Chinese customers more efficiently through Chinese social media and social commerce? Get in touch with ReadySetGo China!