Seeking Elusive Profits in China, US Retailers Expand Beyond Tmall, Embracing JD.com and WeChat and Direct to Consumer Ecommerce

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Research from the Global Ecommerce Leaders Forum shows that 64% of US Marketers plan to implement Tencent’s WeChat and almost half plan for enhanced Chinese Direct-to-Consumer Ecommerce and Fulfillment

“As players like Tencent and JD.com challenge Alibaba for market dominance, those global retail brands sitting on the fence will almost certainly be left behind,” said Kent Allen, co-founder of GELF and the lead author of the study.

Stronger relationships with Tmall (Alibaba) and JD.com helped deliver US retail brands a successful 2017 Single’s Day in China. Continued growth for these brands will come from diversifying channels and strengthening platform partnerships in China, according to research from the Global Ecommerce Leaders Forum (GELF).

According to the survey, 64% of US Marketers plan to implement Tencent’s WeChat in the next two years. Though Tmall is dominant with 56.6% of Chinese ecommerce sales in 2016 (eMarketer), newer channels are gaining traction, presenting US brands opportunities to work with other platforms like JD.com and WeChat and invest more in their direct-to-consumer ecommerce operations.

One third of China’s 768 million daily WeChat users spend more than two hours per day chatting, sharing and shopping on the application, according to eMarketer. “WeChat feels like the early days of Facebook Marketing,” according to one of the executives interviewed.

The GELF research is based on a survey of 56 leading US brands active in global ecommerce as well as one-on-one interviews with senior US ecommerce leaders.

Download the complete research report entitled 'Catching the China Ecommerce Wave: A Global Ecommerce Leaders Forum Study’: http://www.globalecommerceleadersforum.com/downloads/chinareport/

Some of the key findings include:

  • Fifty percent of the brands in the GELF survey said that investing in brand marketing and working with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) is a top priority.
  • More than 70% of the executives surveyed said localizing pricing and payments is their biggest priority when it comes to improving the shopping experience for Chinese ecommerce shoppers.
  • US brands listed their inability to drive revenue through their own websites as the greatest challenge when it comes to selling online in China. Lack of control of and/or reliance on third party partners was the second most frequently listed challenge.
  • Roughly 15% of the GELF executives polled said that 25% to 40% of their international ecommerce revenues are from online consumers in China.

“As players like Tencent and JD.com challenge Alibaba for market dominance, those global retail brands sitting on the fence will almost certainly be left behind,” said Kent Allen, co-founder of GELF and the lead author of the study. “China ecommerce is different — local payments, different platforms, marketing channels and business models. This won’t change and brands operating there need to adapt and evolve or miss out on the world’s biggest e-commerce opportunity.”

The study found that leading retail brands operating in China for five or more years are indeed adapting their ecommerce strategies and becoming more sophisticated. These leaders are pushing partners in China to help them build stronger platform relationships and help them more profitably scale their ecommerce operations.

A common refrain repeated in GELF’s interviews is “China is different,” highlighting the retail, business, marketing, cultural and government-related challenges that still exist in the market, even among those companies who entered China early and generate up to 40% of their international ecommerce revenue from the country. GELF’s events and research were created to enable leading global marketers to better understand how to navigate Chinese Ecommerce.

Download the complete research report entitled 'Catching the China Ecommerce Wave: A Global Ecommerce Leaders Forum Study’: http://www.globalecommerceleadersforum.com/downloads/chinareport/

About the Global Ecommerce Leaders Forum
Founded in 2014, GELF is a community and series of events 100% dedicated to cross-border and international ecommerce. GELF participants include heads of global ecommerce from major brands in fashion, beauty, consumer electronics, home furnishings, sporting goods B2B and other categories as well as solution providers that enable global e-commerce with technologies that support payments, fulfillment, marketing and ecommerce platforms.

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Uriah Av-Ron
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