Ecommerce Fulfillment in Vietnam: By Boxme.asia

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Vietnam Fulfillment Center

Ecommerce in China get all the headlines, but the real ecommerce boom is actually taking place in South East Asia. Lazada and Shopee are the top ecommerce platforms in ASEAN and are far easier to break into than Tmall.hk or JD Worldwide.

That said, consumers in South East Asia are as savvy as those in Europe, the US or China. They demand fast deliveries, and the option to return products.

Managing your ASEAN product fulfillment from overseas is practically impossible.

Luckily, Ecommerce fulfillment companies like Boxme.asia enable businesses worldwide to store, pack and ship products across South East Asia.

In this article, Jerad Tan, General Manager of Boxme.asia, explains how they can help you tap into the world’s fastest growing ecommerce market by utilizing their fulfillment centers in Vietnam. Continue reading Ecommerce Fulfillment in Vietnam: By Boxme.asia

Getting Started with e-Commerce in China: By Azoya Group (interview)

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don-zhao-azoya

The Chinese e-Commerce market is growing with double digits year-on-year and has become the biggest in the world. Many, mainly big multinational companies, have managed to ride the wave and capitalize on the online frenzy. It’s becoming increasingly popular among SMEs to take on the market as well.

But China is still developing and it’s not easy to manage a market entry on your own, with little or no knowledge about the market. Everything from regulations, branding and marketing is different to what we are used to in the West, for example.

Therefore, I decided to invite Don Zhao to explain more about how it works when selling online in China. He has a long experience in e-Commerce and is the Cofounder of Azoya Group, one of the biggest e-Commerce enablers in China.

The company helps clients with a number of services to successfully launch their products in China, like: e-commerce platform setups, logistics, marketing, customer service and more.

Thanks for having you Don! First, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how Azoya helps foreign companies to get started in China?

Hi, my name is Don Zhao and I am the co-founder of Azoya International. In 2013, Alex Huang and I established Azoya with the aim of helping international retailers and brands enter the booming Chinese online market. Since then, we have helped over 35 businesses from around the world successfully crack the Chinese online market.

We offer a comprehensive package of solutions with the core of a retailer’s standalone Chinese e-commerce site, supported by consulting services, online marketplace and social media (WeChat) strategy. In the past 5 years of development, Azoya had grown with our retail partners and achieved over 250% CAGR.

I am passionate about the e-commerce and retail industry, regularly contributing to key retail media, and also being invited as a guest speaker at some of the most important industry events around the world.

1. What are the prerequisites when you determine whether a company is qualified to start selling online in China?

There are several criteria:

Continue reading Getting Started with e-Commerce in China: By Azoya Group (interview)

How Foreign Companies Can Sell Online in China: By Michael Michelini

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mike michelini

There is undoubtedly a lot of hype around the Mainland China ecommerce market. While the market is open to foreign sellers, there are few success stories to be found.

In this Q&A with Michael Michelini, founder of GlobalfromAsia.com and the Cross Border Summit in Shenzhen, you will learn if you’re products are a good fit for the Mainland China market.

In addition, you will also learn how you can use a Hong Kong company as part of your supply chain, and much more.

Michael, please introduce yourself and the upcoming Cross Border Summit

Hi, my name is Michael Michelini and I’m the founder and host of Global From Asia – a cross-border business podcast and blog for ecommerce executives.

Cross Border Summit is our annual conference every April to bring together top leaders and experts to discuss cross-border e-commerce, both importing into China (via Wechat marketing and logistics) as well as exporting from China (via Amazon FBA and other means). Our third annual summit is a full 2 day conference on April 20-21, 2018 in Shenzhen China.

Say that I am a semi-established ecommerce entrepreneur in the US or Europe. Why should I care about China?

China is getting harder and harder to ignore. Both for importing and selling into China as well as exporting globally – the Chinese business owner is covering more and more of the market.

Many of our network overseas has been studying closely Chinese sellers on Amazon and learning from them now!

On the consumer side, for importing and selling into China, the middle class market has continued to grow and the hunger for imported (foreign) goods is better than ever.

It depends on your product line and the strength of your brand. If you are able to build a brand that the Chinese consumer trusts, you can command a healthy profit margin and repeat buyers.

Just like anything in life, if you are willing to invest for the long term, the Chinese market can pay big dividends on the long term. Continue reading How Foreign Companies Can Sell Online in China: By Michael Michelini

Lab Testing Requirements When Exporting to China

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Suggestion: Watch the 10 minutes video tutorial before reading this article

Laboratory testing is not the only way but the most popular way to be sure that your product is compliant with all applicable regulations – and, the most direct and clear way to prove that to be the case to the CIQ in China

In this Q&A with Amanda Lau of CIRS in Hangzhou, you will learn the following:

  • For which products lab testing in China is mandatory
  • When you need to use an accredited laboratory
  • If you can test your product abroad (or only in China)
  • Other mandatory documents when selling to China

Amanda, please introduce yourself and what you do at CIRS in Hangzhou

I am working as technical support engineer for a CIRS affiliate called C&K Testing lab. I joined in the testing lab back in 2014.

I studied Chinese consumer products laws, regulations, standards and other requirements for more than 3 years, giving technical advices and solutions to my colleagues and our customers.

I also provide our customers with trainings regarding to related Chinese compliance requirements.

Is lab testing generally mandatory when exporting to, or selling in, China?

All products placed on [export to] the market for sale in China must comply with Chinese standard, taking them to a lab and get tested will be a direct way to demonstrate the compliance. Continue reading Lab Testing Requirements When Exporting to China

How to Market Your Products on Wechat from Overseas: By Raymond Lam

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Wechat Marketing

WeChat is (kind of) the Facebook of China. People, me included, spend way more time than they should on WeChat – which translates into marketing opportunities for Entrepreneurs like you.Ray Lam Dragon Social

For most of us, WeChat is a new frontier in marketing, and you probably have more questions than answers.

That’s why we I decided to reach out to one of China’s leading WeChat marketing experts – Raymond Lam, at Dragon Social in Hong Kong.

In this interview, Ray gives you actionable advice on how to setup and account, even without having a Chinese company. He also shares cost examples, various account options and much more.

Raymond, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Dragon Social

I am the Head of Growth at Dragon Social, providing consultation to foreign brands that want to enter the Chinese market through digital marketing. I help brands reach out to their targeted Chinese audiences through content marketing and advertising.

We aim to provide solutions for businesses through each stage of their entry into the China market by building brand awareness, fostering engagement, and driving conversions. My expertise lies in marketing in the B2B, e-commerce, tourism and hospitality, and real estate sectors.

First, how can Wechat be used for online marketing?

WeChat is an essential app in China, just as Google is to the rest of the world. WeChat Official Accounts are powerful means to gather followers and redirect them to a website or e-commerce platform. It helps brands to build thought leadership and engage with both potential and current customers.

So, how is WeChat used for online marketing? When users want to find information, they resort to WeChat’s search tool, which can direct them to WeChat’s Official Accounts as search results.

Users can subscribe and view these accounts both directly on the accounts and in a feature similar to Facebook’s “Newsfeed” called “WeChat Moments.”

There are two types of Official Accounts:

1. Subscription Accounts (订阅号)
2. Service Accounts (服务号)

Subscription accounts are suitable for brands who are content-focused. They can post as frequently as once a day, and appear in a dedicated folder in a users’ chat section. However, they have lower functionality as they cannot access APIs, and therefore are more often used by celebrities and bloggers.

Service Accounts have access to 9 comprehensive APIs such as geo-localisation, instant customer service, mini-site interactive games, can register for WeChat Pay, and setup a WeChat Store. It also appears as a push notification alongside the contacts of a user, which is highly visible.

Due to this increased visibility Tencent limits the amount these accounts can post to 4 occasions per month. We still recommend these types of accounts for businesses with a large base of customers, despite only being able to publish content 4 times per month due to the advanced integrations and constantly expanding feature list.

WeChat Stores provides a seamless path for users to purchase backed by advanced APIs. Compared to TaoBao where users purchase only after searching and comparing prices, WeChat Stores are more like ‘destination-shopping’.

It is an e-commerce interface linked to WeChat Official Accounts. But this also implies that WeChat Stores do not have organic traffic as TaoBao does. Running promotional campaigns and online word of mouth are thus key to the success of WeChat Stores.

What kind of businesses, for example in Europe and the US, market their products and services on Wechat today?

Fashion and luxury brands have had fantastic results from marketing on WeChat. Givenchy once collaborated with a famous blogger named Tao Liang, known as Mr. Bags with 1.2 million followers on WeChat, to promote its limited-edition handbag. Within 12 minutes, the entire collection of 80 handbags priced 15,000 RMB each has been sold out.

Burberry, one of the most appreciated brands in China was able to foster a massive amount of engagement when celebrities commented on their London fashion show via WeChat. This helped the brand to further build relationships with Chinese consumers.

There are so many opportunities yet to be explored for businesses in industries ranging from entertainment to e-commerce. Many of WeChat’s features remain underutilized and I expect we’ll see even more creative uses of WeChat in the future.

Is it mandatory to incorporate in China to set up a company account on Wechat, or can it be done using agents or even overseas companies?

There are two ways to set up a WeChat company official account without having to register a company in China.

You can use a foreign business license to register an international account which will cost at least USD 1000 and takes about 2-3 months to set up, the high cost in terms of both time and money stems from the back and forth communication with Tencent, as each account receives approval on a case by case basis.

The advantage of this type of account being able to own the account entirely and access all of the features available without the need to rely on an agent.

Another way which is more often recommended is to use a third-party business partner with a business license in China. Each company can register as many as 50 WeChat company accounts, so agents have sprung up across China to offer this service.

It costs around USD 500 maintenance fee per year to pay for the third party. You reserve the right to choose your name, logo and description for the account. The only difference is the ‘Account Type’ would be sponsored by the third-party company, which might not seem a big deal to many companies.

The only issue is you’ll need to find an agent you can trust, which can be difficult. Be sure to do your research on any potential partners, just like you should with any business partnership.

Account type sponsored by a third-party business partner

Recently, WeChat has provided an option for companies to switch their third-party partners for a small fee without any loss of followers or content. This allows foreign companies to later switch it back to their own company once it has registered a business license in China.

It takes less than 2 weeks to set up through the domestic process, making it cost-efficient, flexible and lower-risk. The key is to choose a trustworthy partner to set up with, and if you’re in the market for one, Dragon Social would be a good choice.

How much does it cost to setup a company account on Wechat?

As mentioned, setting up through an international account will cost at least USD 1000, taking 2-3 months. While partnering with a third-party business partner in China would cost around USD500 maintenance per year, however some companies can have the fee waived.

Are Wechat ads paid per sponsored post, click, impression or any other metric?

There are three major types of WeChat advertising including WeChat Banner Ads, ‘WeChat Moment Ads’, and Key Opinion Leader (KOL) Ads.

WeChat Banner Ads can be purchased on both an impression and click basis. CPM (Cost per impression) costs are fixed depending on location while CPC (cost per click) costs are determined by a bidding system similar to other systems.

One common question is whether foreign companies can use WeChat Banner Ads – the answer is yes, but advertising for certain products might require permission granted from the Chinese government.

Receiving permission and getting this all set-up can be a bit time-consuming, but this type of advertisement can be quite effective for targeting specific groups of Chinese customers.

‘WeChat Moment Ads’ offer both display and video formats and are purchased on a purely CPM basis. These are much pricier when compared to banner ads. The pricing differs slightly depending on the format.

It is currently the top choice for luxury brands in China who create advertisements in a variety of different media formats.

KOL ads allow companies to post advertisements on the official accounts of KOLs. The price range is huge as there is no set pricing and each KOL is free to decide the cost for advertising on their account. KOLs usually determine their pricing based on the quality, price and type of products companies would like them to endorse.

A portion of the advertising fee paid to celebrities is shared with WeChat, thus KOLs tend to charge higher prices to maintain their profits. The key to success with these advertisements is finding the right KOL for your product and your budget.

If you want to know more about this topic, you can check out our WeChat advertising blog.

Do you have any cost examples?

WeChat Banner Ads range from 15-25 RMB for the CPM model, depending on location, and start at 0.5 RMB for the CPC model. We usually see CPC costs of between 5-20 RMB. Moment ads are the priciest, with CPM ranging from 60-180 RMB depending on location.

The biggest issue many companies face with WeChat advertisements, however, is the initial deposit for activation which is RMB 50,000.

Note: CPM = Cost per thousand impressions, CPC = Cost per click, RMB = Chinese Yuan (1 USD = 6.6 RMB)

Do ecommerce companies normally sell products within the Wechat platform, or direct traffic to their own website?

As I mentioned before, WeChat Stores are more like ‘destination-shopping.” It is a closed network and it can be hard to drive traffic to a WeChat store with organic content alone.

Independent ecommerce websites also face this same issue and in many cases face even more hurdles than WeChat shops. Although users spend a lot of time within WeChat it is still new to the ecommerce game, meaning that users don’t expect to make purchases when using the app.

While both of these methods can lead to sales the most effective method is still to rely on the aid of the 3rd-Party E-commerce platforms in China.

For most brands, setting up an account on China’s e-commerce giants, such as Tmall or JingDong (JD), should be the first step to establishing an ecommerce presence in China. These platforms offer many built-in tools for recruiting followers, building brand awareness, and driving sales.

A WeChat shop can be built after this has been established to allow for multiple points of purchase across different platforms.

Of course, WeChat will certainly add new features that will possibly make WeChat a stronger platform for e-commerce companies.

Based on your experience, what is the minimum budget to get started with Wechat advertising?

The minimum budget I would say is at least RMB 50,000. At this price, you’ll be able to achieve some brand awareness for your company. However, it is unlikely you’ll be able to achieve a positive ROI on your first attempt. To optimize and ensure you’re reaching you’re the right audience it will likely require a higher budget.

Thank you Raymond. How can our readers learn more about your services?

Dragon Social is a leading digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing for foreign companies who want to enter China. We provide both standardized social media marketing packages as well as custom-made social media and  digital marketing services.

Check out our blog posts for further information on WeChat marketing or other forms of marketing in China for your company, and feel free to contact us anytime!

Website: www.dragonsocial.net
My LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/raymond-lam-growth-marketing

Digital Market Entry in China: Finding Customers Using SEO and SEM

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baidu seo sem

Think your Google marketing experience will help you attract Chinese customers to your online store? Think again.

Mainland China has its own internet ecosystem, which is shielded from the rest of the world. Here, people use Baidu, not Google. And they don’t talk to their friends on Facebook, but on Wechat.

Even if you’re experienced in ecommerce and internet marketing, you will need to read everything that Francesco D’Einar, Director of the Business Development at Westwin in Shanghai, has to say about digital market entry strategy for overseas ecommerce companies.

Keep reading, and learn more about how you should optimize your online store for China, Baidu SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing), PPC (Pay Per Click) ad retargeting – and why a Hong Kong .hk domain is a good substitute if you cannot register a .cn domain.

Francesco, please tell us a bit about your work at Westwin and Adstochina.com

I’m the Director of the Business Development for Westwin Inbound Unit, where I work to build and grow the business in terms of partnerships, reputation and revenue.

I have a solid background in marketing and business management and I have been in China for several years, always working to connect foreign companies to Chinese customers.

Westwin is the former Microsoft Online China (MSN) which was acquired and renamed on August 2016. This allowed us to expand our range of services, now we are active in several different areas and my business unit is focus on helping brands with their digital marketing for the Chinese audience.

Let’s say that I have a budget of $20,000. How should I spend my money to break into the Chinese ecommerce market, from abroad?

The answer is not as easy as it seems because every case is different and depends on various factors like the nature of the business, goals, budget and so on.

But in general you should follow what I call “ The 4 steps market entry digital path”:

1. Create your presence, brand awareness and reputation;

2. Build a base of followers;

3. Drive sales;

4. Maintain your reputation high and increase sales levels.

It’s a gradual and flexible process, where the effort in terms of spending can be adjusted according to the ongoing results.

But what I would like to highlight is that, whatever you do to achieve results in China, you should have and follow a clear strategy as much as you can, even with a high level of flexibility.

To answer your question, and considering a common business situation, I would start with having a localized Chinese website together with an official account on social media, Weibo and WeChat.

Then you should bring traffic and increase the awareness by SEO, SEM and content strategies.

To get sales, advertising on various platforms is the right choice. And don’t forget to open an e-store on WeChat.

Maybe at this stage your budget will be already gone, but for sure you will see the first results.

Search Engine Marketing is one of your key areas. Which search engines should overseas companies target?

We have solid partnerships with all the major digital media players [companies] in the market, and also with the most popular search engines.

Baidu is still the leader, so it should be the first choice and vast part of the budget should go there, followed by Qihoo 360, that is still a good option, even if cheaper.

How should a website, such as an online store, be optimized for Baidu?

If we talk about an e-commerce website, we should keep in mind that our target customers are Chinese people, so everything must be Chinese users-friendly.

Our site should be fully translated to Chinese also because it will help to get better results in the page-rank and web crawling from Baidu.

Furthermore, having an organized platform with clear sections will be helpful for SEO and SEM strategies. The URLs can be both in Pinyin or English, most important is that they are similar to the company name, abbreviations are also ok.

Another point to don’t forget is to make sure that your website is well optimized for mobile use.

How important is it to have the website hosted in China?

Having a website hosted in China is important for several reasons, the most important of those is the loading speed of the website and sometime even the actual possibility for mainland users to access to it.

However, to host a website in China is mandatory to get an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license and to apply for it, it’s necessary to have a business license from an entity legally registered in China.

Since most of the newcomers don’t have any presence in China, the option that I suggest is to register the website in Hong Kong, where the issues with loading speed and access are limited.

Is it important to get links from websites in China?

Due to many reasons, getting a good rank on Chinese search engines is not easy, so optimizing your presence in any possible way is the only thing you can do. Using backlinks, blogs, PR platforms like BaiduPedia, etc.

Everything is useful to get better ranking results.

You also work with PPC ads. How do you combine an SEO/SEM strategy with PPC in China?

Well, PPC ads are part of an overall SEM strategy and they are fundamental to get a big exposure in China.

Using SEM on Baidu allows you not only to do retargeting, but also to accurately target users based on geographic, demographic, interest, timing selections.

The performances from SEM are supported and improved by a proper SEO which allows your website to rank higher in Baidu’s algorithm, with the content on the website being crawled better.

As a result the quality of Ads and keywords will be higher which means better rank position with less costs.

Thank you Francesco. What kind of services can you offer our readers?

Westwin offers integrated digital marketing strategies and solutions for achieving success in China. From branding to advertising, to social media marketing and e-commerce, we help brands to get big exposure and sales among the Chinese audience.

Great. How can they get in touch with you?

You can get in touch with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/frandeinar

How the biggest Swedish startup platform was created – Interview with Anders Hassis, the co-founder of Swedish Startup Space

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Anders-Harris

The global startup scene has literally exploded the last years and people of all backgrounds want to take part in it. I’m not an exception, in fact, I wouldn’t meet Anders Hassis if I wasn’t a keen follower of the startup community.

Anders is an entrepreneur and a developer who co-founded Swedish Startup Space in February 2013. The website works as a platform for startups that want to discover other companies, market themselves or share experiences with other startups. Let’s have a look at what Anders has to say about the startup scene and how his own company was established.
Continue reading How the biggest Swedish startup platform was created – Interview with Anders Hassis, the co-founder of Swedish Startup Space

Let’s meet Emma Palmér, the CEO of Fangsi House of Quality, CSR & Logistics

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emma-palmer

Emma Palmér is the CEO of Fangsi, a Swedish owned company established in 2009. Fangsi is your helping hand in Asia and work with quality assurance, supply chain management and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in the textile industry.

Fangsi has grown fast and can show an impressing list of clients, including well-known Swedish companies. Thanks to its presences in both China and Sweden, Fangsi maintains a close customer relationship and performs on-site visits in Asia. Let’s have a look at Emma has to say! Continue reading Let’s meet Emma Palmér, the CEO of Fangsi House of Quality, CSR & Logistics