Can Western Brands Still Make it with China Online Shopping?


China online shopping is not off-limits to western brands. The Asian giant is still open to business. However as President Xi Jinping explained in his whirlwind visit to America, there is an increasing necessity to do in China what the Chinese do.

I cannot say the same thing about high-tech companies building the internet spine though. The knives are out on both sides and this morning I am no longer as confident that sanity will prevail.

Forbes View of Chinese Online Shopping from the Street

Don Davis (contributing editor in chief of Internet Retailer magazine, and Vertical Web Media’s five weekly newsletters) just got back from China. There he found long queues forming not to beg for food, but to snap up new generation Apple iPhones and Apple TV’s. He reports it’s pretty much business-as-usual out there, with most upwardly mobile Chinese having survived the crash unscathed.

He gained the impression that China online shopping is in good health. Both Chinese and non-Chinese business people in Hong and Guangzhou (old Canton) were enthusiastic about future ‘rapid growth’ in online shopping in China. With 7% economic growth still on the cards the money is going to have to go somewhere. A goodly amount of it will no doubt find its way into the hands of Alibaba.

China Online Shopping: What are Threats for Westerners

So far so good, however some market dynamics apply only to foreigners. These things are not quite such plain sailing. Copycatting at industrial level dates back as far as statues in Ancient Rome. A China Online Shoppingsuccession of Asian states made an art of it since World War II. Online shopping in China may have perfected it.

Beijing’s penchant for manipulating the value of the Yuan is the second major threat to Westerners entering the Chinese online shopping market. If products are more expensive than comparables, then consumers will not buy. The solution could be in-China manufacturing and collaborative marketing channels. This would provide more power to China’s elbow, but not much for the West to wrestle with, I fear.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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