China’s E-Tail Landscape: What’s the Recipe for Success?

China is expected to surpass the U.S. in e-commerce spending for the first time this year and the country is expected to spend $265 billion in 2013, according to a retailing report. McKinsey China also forecasts that the online retailing (e-tailing) industry could reach $650 billion by 2020.

At SES Shanghai, Eddie Choi, executive director at Milton moderated a panel with Angela Au-Yeung, digital commerce director from Bleum Commerce and Lawrence Wang, TedtoChina director and former global digital manager at Lee Kum Kee on this topic.

The discussion explored various issues:

  • Should a brand open a Taobao store or set up a branded e-commerce site in China?
  • What are the challenges of having a separate digital marketing and e-commerce team within an organization?
  • Does social really drive commerce in China?
  • How does mobile play a role in China’s e-commerce landscape?

Choi’s insights to the panel discussion below:

Brands should adopt Taobao for their e-commerce development since it is a one-stop shop, less technical barrier. Besides, a brand should own its owned asset on Taobao, otherwise it will lose the property to the resellers who sell the same brand and product.

However, opening a TMall store has its limitations, such as having control over look and feel, and most importantly, the analytics is not comprehensive.

Mobile plays an important role but it’s not for all product sectors. Products with presentation that fits into the mobile small screen will have better results. For example, cosmetics works better than apparel and fashion.

An e-commerce team within an organization structure can either partner with digital marketing or sales units. The latter tends to give better performance in terms of the return of the business.

Social may not directly contribute to e-commerce transactions but it develops influence toward the end result throughout the buying journey.

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