China with its large population has long become a very attractive market for foreign retailers – although it has of course specific requirements. How the German retailer for baby-products “windeln.de” (in English: diapers.de) utilizes e-commerce as a gateway to China, explains CEO Konstantin Urban.
Mr. Urban, when did you start to sell your products on the Chinese market and what was the initial reason for it?
Already in early windeln.de-years in 2011, we noticed a high demand from Chinese customers on our German website www.windeln.de and gradually professionalized the business with Chinese customers. Over the years, we developed a deep knowledge of the Chinese market.
Are you selling on market places or do you use your own platforms?
We sell on our own Chinese online shop and on Tmall Global. In July 2016 we also launched a Tmall Global Flagship store. Tmall Global is one of the largest cross-border e-commerce platforms in China. Alibaba’s digital marketplace gives access to more than 400 Million Chinese customers.
What challenges are you confronted with?
It is very important to understand the market well: Is there potential for a particular product? How well-known are the products already, for example are they already being sold through resellers on platforms like Taobao or JD.com? Chinese consumer expect a fast and competent customer service in Chinese, which we had to set up. We have an office in Shanghai with Chinese employees who closely monitor developments in the Chinese market so we can stay ahead of the developments. In addition, we have a large team of Chinese employees in Munich to optimally serve our Chinese customers.
What are the main differences between the German market and the Chinese?
On Chinese platforms, there are numerous promotion days (e.g. 11.11.), which strongly drive the business. Also, trust is a very important factor in the Chinese market. We address this by guaranteeing the authenticity of the products, maintaining good relationships with manufacturers and providing excellent customer service. In China, well-known foreign quality brands are of high interest, especially in the health and beauty sector.