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4 ways Chinese innovation is shaping global e-commerce




Key points to remember:

  • The growing success of American live streaming startup Popshop Live (the company recently announced a valuation of $ 100 million) foreshadows growing confidence in the platform in the West.

  • A playful approach to selling has been a big part of Chinese fast-moving, mobile fashion brand Sheins’ triumph in major Western markets, from showering customers with virtual confetti to their famous point system.

  • With Sheins Sheinsiders Day, the two-week Net-a-Porters 2021 The Beauty of You festival, and Youtube’s recent Small Bizz Day, we are now seeing more confidence in brand-led shopping festivals outside of China. .

The common narrative that China entered e-commerce by copying and deploying concepts from Silicon Valley has been systematically erased over the past decade. Today, from the recent boom in live broadcasts to 24/7 customer service, Chinese innovation has shaped global e-commerce, giving the rest of us a glimpse into the future of shopping.

Right here, Daily Jing highlights four of these innovations. But rather than focusing on their technological aspects, we explore their impact on the main social and cultural dynamics of global shopping.

“Shopping for entertainment” or “Competition for time sharing”

One of the defining characteristics of the Chinese e-commerce market is how online shopping was created as a hobby, with retailers and apps organizing spaces for people to discover, play and have fun on their own. or with friends. Spending is almost a secondary aspect of these experiences, with retailers vying for consumers’ time rather than their wallets.

The explosion of live broadcasts in China is one example, and it’s an area that global players are now starting to embrace, from US luxury retailer Nordstrom hosting more than 50 virtual events last year at the French department store Printemps, which recently broadcast four shopping programs live from its flagship store on Boulevard Haussman. Additionally, the growing success of U.S. live-streaming startup Popshop Live (the company recently announced a valuation of $ 100 million) foreshadows growing confidence in the movement.

Other examples of entertainment-driven commerce incorporated by global players include the recent permission of Instagram’s creators to sell products through Instagram Live, click-through product launches in its stories, and product links in Instagram Live. stream photos. Meanwhile, purchasable reels were introduced in December 2020 and are similar to Chinese video app Douyin owned by Bytedance.

Taking a page from its sister app Douyins playbook, TikTok has persuaded consumers to usually shop by video in Europe and the United States, with the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt currently at 4.1 billion views and counting. This angle shows not only the power of short videos but also recommendation-driven shopping as the evolving concept of shopping becomes part of everyday online entertainment.

TikTok users share the items they have purchased based on recommendations from other users. Photo: Screenshots, TikTok

“Tap the Inner Child” or “Addiction is Good for Sales”

Closely linked to the previous subject, Chinese e-commerce players have become the masters of gamification. Today, shoppers attend virtual exhibitions and performances at the luxury pavilion of Tmalls and are drawn to purchasing an item through branded games or quizzes that personalize their purchases.

A playful approach to selling has been a big part of Chinese fast-moving, mobile fashion brand Sheins’ triumph in major Western markets. From the brand flooding its customers with virtual confetti when they log into its famous points system, the company is harnessing the addictive nature of the game.

Virtual trial features that integrate AI and AR, which were welcomed in 2020 and 2021 due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, also reflect the growing gamification of e-commerce. A recent example is Snapchats partnership with Farfetch and Prada, where its 3D Body Mesh technology allowed users to try on clothes, view fabric movement and fit, and share the results with friends.

Thanks to Snapchat’s new gesture recognition capabilities, Prada shoppers can signal on the app when they want to purchase another item or color. Photo: Courtesy of Snap

Literal gambling is also increasingly becoming an integral part of online shopping. So it’s no surprise that some global fashion brands with a strong track record in China have made direct forays into this space. Balenciaga, for example, launched its Fall 2021 collection via the online video game Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, while Gucci partnered with Roblox for an in-game Gucci Garden experience earlier this year.

Create your own shopping festival or the new national holidays

Consumers around the world learned about the business aspects of national holidays long before the internet or e-commerce, and the industries creating shopping festivals masquerading as cultural occasions is not an entirely new concept (Midsummer’s Day). Valentin, for example).

However, over the past decade, a plethora of shopping festivals have sprung up in China, which have played a crucial role in shaping the country’s avant-garde shopping landscape. And today, many of those specific days now look like deeply rooted cultural phenomena. Singles Day and 618 are now well known around the world and are increasingly being ‘celebrated’ by global retailers and consumers outside of China.

The 618 festival, in particular, is unique, as it began as a celebration of’s birthday in 2010. In fact, many believe that Amazon’s launch of Prime Day as an ode to its 20th anniversary is five years old. later was inspired by it. And with Sheins Sheinsiders Day, the two-week Net-a-Porters 2021 The Beauty of You festival, and Youtube’s recent Small Bizz Day, we’re now seeing more confidence in shopping festivals run by brands outside of the UK. China.

YouTube hosted its first Small Biz Day this year as part of Google’s International Small Business Week. Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

“Shopping never stops” or “At your service 24/7”

Driven by fierce competition in China, e-commerce buyers can usually communicate directly with brands and retailers around the clock, and they expect a response within seconds. They can also view products by video call and ask questions to sales assistants live on Tmall and JD or in WeChat mini-stores.

While there isn’t a widespread equivalent in most other markets, retailers like Yoox Net-a-Porter and Selfridges have been using WhatsApp for some time now to talk to their spending customers. And many other luxury brands have recently increased the use of messaging to close sales. Cashmere sweater brand Brunello Cucinelli, for example, ran video calls with 30-40 buyers at a time while Genoa-based jewelry brand Gismondi 1754 sold a diamond ring for $ 355,000 to one. of its biggest spenders in Switzerland via WhatsApp.

It might have taken a pandemic to follow China’s path towards thoughtful and immediate communication between retailers and their customers. And while it hasn’t hit the low-end product categories yet, it will be difficult to wean buyers off those channels now that they’re used to it.

Additionally, while the instantaneous nature of delivery in China is unmatched, lightning-fast grocery delivery targeting 10-15 minute wait times is funded in Europe, Asia, Russia, South America, and the United States. United States, according to a study by Sacra.

While we haven’t seen a massive adoption of Chinese e-commerce models in Western markets, these innovations have played out quite differently in less mature e-commerce markets, such as Southeast Asia. And as the above examples show, there are many aspects of Chinese e-commerce now shaping the way we shop globally, not only from a technological standpoint but also from a fundamental socio-cultural standpoint.

Based in China, Torsten Stocker is COO of an Asian distributor of beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.




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