For any company looking to target Chinese customers, the first and perhaps the most important e-commerce strategy is to build a useful website for Chinese customers. According to eMarketer, in 2019, China’s e-commerce market is estimated to grow to $1.989 trillion USD. The Chinese e-commerce market is a gold mine for international companies and if these foreign brands are hoping to successfully tap into this market, they must first create a website tailored to suit the needs of Chinese customers.
However, launching a Chinese version of your website can be stressful if you aren’t sure where to start. Further, there is the care that has to be taken into account to remain an accessible website given China’s internet policies.
In this article, learn more about the proven ways to easily and readily build the foundations of a website for Chinese customers that will help you market your brand to match their styles.
Solutions to Building a Website for Chinese Customers
Building a website for Chinese customers is not about simply cloning an English website into the Chinese version and then using a .cn domain to feature it. Sure, it seems like the easy fix to consider translating your website not only in Chinese but also in many languages.
The problem is that your potential Chinese customers are quite different from the customers in other parts of the world. As such, your Chinese website should reflect these unique differences if you want your brand to be compelling. Below are some established methods you can employ to build a memorable website for Chinese customers.
1. Use a Local Domain Name Extension
The internet in China follows strict regulations and guidelines. As such, many websites and servers are blocked in mainland China for failing to meet these requirements. Hong Kong, although technically within China, operates as an autonomous region in terms of internet authority.
However, it may be difficult to determine which part of China your customers will come from. In order to ensure that your website is accessible to everyone in the country, it is highly recommended that you give your website a “.cn” domain name – one that is authorized by China’s Ministry of Information Industry.
Your company will also need to obtain a business license to operate in Chinese cyberspace if you use a local server. There are two types of ICP (Internet Content Provider) licenses issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) at the provincial level. The first is ICP license 京ICP证 — used for commercial (operational) websites. This would apply to any website that allows a customer to purchase goods or services online. The second is ICP recordal — 京ICP备 — used for non-commercial (informational) websites, including those that don’t include direct sales.
2. Host your Website on a Chinese Server
Accessing websites in China can generally be slow when the connection is from outside China given that many websites get blocked or become restricted under the country’s internet policies.
Hosting your website in mainland China can help to improve the speed and stability of your website to reach Chinese customers. However, using a local server in Mainland China would require that you apply to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.
Most ICP licenses are only given to companies with a physical presence in the country, so unless you plan on building physical structures in China, this is not a viable option. However, agencies in China are offering this ICP license to foreign companies and Tenba Group is currently drafting new plans to help businesses with this service.
Nonetheless, a great solution would be to host your website in Hong Kong. By hosting in Hong Kong, your brand can enjoy the benefits of geographical proximity to mainland China, which will increase the accessibility of your website to Chinese customers.
If you do not intend to use a Chinese server, ensure that your chosen server is not blocked in China by following up on the latest regulations and policies. Otherwise, your website may be inaccessible to your intended target Chinese audience.
3. Optimize for Chinese Search Engines
Baidu is to China what Google is to the rest of the world. Like Google, Baidu has its own unique search algorithms that influence the ranking of a website. However, SEO for Google is different from that of Baidu. Thus, for your website to have a high ranking in China, it must be specifically optimized for Chinese search engines such as Baidu.
To illustrate, Baidu, unlike Google, does not index the entire text of a webpage to determine its relevance to the user’s search query. So putting the relevant content at the top of the page would be more beneficial for SEO in Baidu.
There are several other differences between Google’s and Baidu’s ranking systems and it is recommended that your SEO strategies account for those differences if you want to improve the visibility of your website for Chinese customers.
4. Match the Language to Your Target Market
China is a big country – both in the landmass and human population, so it is not surprising that certain parts of the country have different languages. For instance, while people in mainland China use simplified Chinese, people living in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao read traditional Chinese. Depending on your target region in the Chinese market, you may need a website in either simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, or for better marketing opportunities, both.
Before you decide to design a website for Chinese customers, it is necessary to carry out some initial market research to help you determine which parts of the country would be your ideal target market. This can help you decide if your website should have simplified or traditional characters.
Regardless of your final decision, our team of experts at Tenba Group can help you with market research as well as craft your desired website for Chinese customers. Get in touch with our team and let us help you explore your options.
5. Localize Your Content and Style
It is important to tailor your content on the website specifically for Chinese customers. This goes to say that simply translating your content from English to Chinese will not cut it. Use cultural and social references in your content to keep engagement consistent and current.
Making it as real as possible for the Chinese reader lends more credibility to the content and consequently, your business. Adapting your content to suit your customers is one of the most effective ways of winning new customers and being connected with current consumers. For more ways at making sure your website pulls in Chinese customers is to be diverse in your content mediums. One of the most significant mediums for Chinese internet users is video content.
6. Digitalize Your Website to be Responsive and Mobile-Friendly
According to statista, there are over 800 million internet users in China and of those, 98 percent use mobile devices. With the increasing number of Chinese internet users moving to mobile platforms, building a website that is responsive to various devices would give your brand more visibility and consequently, more customers.
The average Chinese internet user spends 3 hours daily on their smartphones either shopping online or paying for a service. According to eMarketer, at least 75 percent of e-commerce sales are generated by mobile users.
Smartphones contribute a great deal to the e-commerce landscape in the Chinese market. Building a mobile-friendly website for Chinese customers puts your company in the hands of millions every day.
7. Offer Payment Options Available in China
If you are building an e-commerce website that requires customers to pay for products or services, then make sure to incorporate payment channels that are available in China. The most commonly used online payment platforms include Ali Pay, Union Pay, and WeChat Pay. These primary options are all connected to major banks within China and boast millions of daily active users across the country.
Building a localized website for Chinese customers is an incredibly worthwhile business strategy. A localized web presence, particularly one that appeals to Chinese consumers, can help to promote your brand’s image and sale value in China. Beyond ensuring that your website is accessible, it is important that your site matches that of local Chinese sites. Stylistic elements, content attributes, and digitalization tools can make your business website ideal for Chinese customers.
Talk to our team at Tenba Group and let us better craft your digitalization and Chinese customer e-commerce strategies starting now.