Selling to China: What Do Chinese Consumers Expect From eCommerce?

Eric Pong
Chinese consumers expectations - Floship

Western consumers may have varying opinions on Chinese customer service thanks to the huge volume of Chinese retailers and exports. You might have received an order from a Chinese seller which is poorly packaged or arrives after seemingly endless weeks of waiting. However, this doesn’t mean that Chinese products are generally badly delivered. Similarly, it doesn’t mean that Chinese shoppers have low standards for the way they receive products they’ve ordered online. In fact, Chinese consumers expect a lot when they shop online and international retailers need to live up to these expectations.

A full 58% of Chinese consumers report that a poor fulfillment experience would put them off shopping with the same retailer in the following year, and yet a 2017 survey conducted by YouGov found that the majority of Chinese shoppers – a shocking 88% – had experienced problems with orders in the past year. Chinese consumers are huge online shoppers and you need to get your delivery service right if you want to succeed in this market.

So what do Chinese consumers expect from eCommerce?


Delivery expectations

Chinese buyers are significantly more likely to keep shopping with a retailer when they are happy with their delivery. And how do you make them happy? Well, Chinese shoppers look for fast and cheap (or preferably free) delivery options. A survey by Royal Mail found that 88% of Chinese consumers spend extra time searching for websites which offer free delivery. They are happy to abandon their cart if they find a better delivery option, and high delivery prices cause 32% of cart abandonments.

Of course, delivery time matters too. Another significant reason for cart abandonment is delivery time, with 26% saying they will quit making a purchase if the delivery time is too long. The majority of shoppers would like to be offered same-day delivery but an even higher number say that it is important to have a specified delivery date. Luckily, their expectations aren’t unrealistic – 72% of consumers expect international deliveries to take six days or more. If you can offer a faster time than that, you’re set to impress your Chinese customers. If you can tell your Chinese customers when they will receive their product, get it to them quickly, and offer cheap delivery prices, you’re on track for success.

Packaging expectations

Chinese packaging can be pretty hit or miss. Products ordered from some Chinese retailers can arrive in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and materials, including ones which aren’t exactly suitable for their purpose. But it would be a big mistake to assume that Chinese consumers have low expectations for packaging when they buy. Particularly when it comes to highly valued international brands, Chinese consumers expect durable, neat, suitable packaging. Reliable delivery is important to Chinese shoppers and that includes receiving packages in boxes or padded envelopes which keep merchandise safe, clean, and intact.

Service expectations

Just like consumers anywhere else in the world, Chinese shoppers get frustrated by bad customer service. Expectations are actually rising, with 67% of Chinese consumers saying that their expectations for sellers are higher or much higher than they used to be. However, around two thirds of Chinese consumers said they had experienced poor customer service in the past year and a fifth said that this was specifically related to problems with an online delivery. Three quarters of Chinese shoppers also report that they will switch retailers if they have a bad problem resolution experience.

Many Chinese online retailers like Taobao Marketplace offer instant messaging services so online shoppers can quickly discuss any queries they might have with eCommerce vendors. This sort of tailor-made, customer-led service gives Chinese buyers different expectations about customer service. For Chinese consumers, it is important for eCommerce vendors to offer sufficient product information and provide ways for interested customers to contact them. Including an instant chat service on your website is a great idea, but if that’s not possible, then make sure you respond quickly to queries and offer a reasonable policy for returns.

The importance of reviews in China

Chinese consumers depend on product reviews online more than consumers almost anywhere else in the world. There is a much closer relationship between social media and eCommerce in China so shoppers can easily see what their friends are saying that recent purchases. This plays a huge role in Chinese consumer choices.

eCommerce sellers should also know that Chinese online shoppers leave many more reviews too. If they love your product and have a great customer experience, they’ll let you know. However, if they experience bad delivery or customer service, everyone will hear about it. 75% of Chinese shoppers give online feedback about their purchases at least once a month. This number seems even higher when you realize that only 20% of consumers in the US do the same thing. Chinese shoppers really take reviews seriously, whether they come from strangers online, social media connections, or close family and friends. This customer feedback is a central part of purchasing decisions and the purchasing process in China, so it’s not a good idea to skimp on quality in this area.

In conclusion:

Chinese consumers are online shopping more than ever before and they have high expectations for their orders. Fast shipping times and high-quality packaging are favored, if not expected, by the modern Chinese online shopper. On top of that, customer feedback is highly important in China and bad reviews could really damage your success there. If you’re running an eCommerce business selling to China, you should take care of these aspects of your deliveries. Of course, this can be hard to do all on your own. Here at Floship, we can help you with storing and shipping your products quickly and efficiently to China. We can make sure your customers are happy with their deliveries so your business can thrive.

Want to know more about shipping your products to Chinese customers? Contact our team at Floship today to find out how you can sign up for a free consultation.

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