Nov 082013



If your retail outlets are overseas, how do you attract Chinese shoppers to your stores?  Social media has a big role to play in creating China business opening for you. Baidu and Weibo are the two channels you need to explore for your China retail strategy. The first is China largest search engine and the latter carries China twitter function. Both set-up are the must have for any B2C enterprise who wish to attract Chinese customers.

The online practice habit of Chinese consumers is what makes Baidu important. Information on e-platform has great influence on Chinese consumers buying decision. It is very common for them to check first online to verify information they receive. For shoppers, they will visit outlets and compare prices online to make buying decision.

The online practice habit of Chinese consumers is what makes Baidu important. Information on e-platform has great influence on Chinese consumers buying decision. It is very common for them to check first online to verify information they receive. For shoppers, they will visit outlets and compare prices online to make buying decision.

Once they participate, you have created a successful campaign and your fans will start growing. The result does not stop there. These fans would be able to start buying from you when they visit or ask third party to purchase on their behalf, which is very common among Chinese community. They need not visit your shop. Those who can be found on Baidu, start seeing attract of Chinese visitors increase. If you wish to achieve what they did, here are some of the basic steps your need to attract Chinese customers to you :

Step 1: Be visible on Baidu search

Baidu is one of the largest search engine in China. It commands 70% online users population in China.

Your name should be listed on Baidu through PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising while you work on your organic listing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on Baidu.

Step 2 : Present yourself through Weibo

Having a website in English and Chinese is only a start. It does not bring traffic. You need to attract and engage customers to your site. One of the important B2C tool is Chinese twitter called Weibo.

Step 3 : Strategic campaigns to grow your business

To make Weibo serves you successful, your voice has to be heard. Don’t hard sell your products unless you are providing very good offer. Communicate with your customers like you want to be approached. Add interesting elements in their life. Let them want to come back often for a good time. Every message you twit should carry weight and encourage action.

If you still don’t get the kind or response you wish to achieve, consider tapping on Weibo Ad and WeChat campaigning to give you a head start.

Weibo Ad gets you appear on celebrity tweeters, which help you draw their fans to you. The result is visible within very short time. WeChat should be your next level of communication media as smart phone is a common tool among Chinese consumers. To make success WeChat campaign, you must first accumulate quality fans and structure your campaign well. This we will discuss in another occasion.

Chinese consumers are dominating retail scene global wise. Retailers from everywhere are trying to attract them to their outlets. Are you drawing customers to you? Give it a thought about your presence in China. Internet can bring you very close to your Orient customers.

Red Line China Retail helps overseas retailers to establish their presence in China through Baidu PPC, SEO, WeiBo and WeChat setup and specialized in managing campaigns that attract fans.

Sep 042013


Have you wonder what could be difference between a successful designer and one who tried twice as hard and never get a break?

Besides talent, network, exposure, money, knowledge and operation support, the concoction cannot be completed without participation of fans. Only with a group of advocates are you a step ahead.

While waiting to be discovered, consider taking advantage of technology, using social media to build your brand.

The benefits are huge. You are talking directly with fans, create awareness, communicate and hear what they say about you. You can decide on your product launch at anytime. Link your collection to e-Shop or your retail outlet and start promoting, interacting and selling immediately.

What you now need is a social media specialist to put things together while leaving you to continue to do your best creation.

Do consider a proper social media company that can deliver quality result for you. It is a human intensive work and should be done be a team with product and market knowledge. Social media specialist needs to work on the fundamental of the market, corporate / brand philosophy combine with human psychology, sociology and technology to help you grow strategically.

Understand what the audience wants and provide the kind of information that are inviting. Simply promoting your brand, offering discount without other interesting content could be a put off to fans and eventually cause them to fade out.

While you are creating, consider using technology to help you grow. Select a right social media company to help you grow your fans base and involve in answering fans on a fixed schedule weekly. Leave social media to the expert.

Jul 132013



Korean fashion scene has moved like a speed racer in recent years. Thanks to good marketing campaign and the success of PSY, Samsung gadgets and Korean TV shows have further strengthen the industry.

What exactly is Korean fashion? Personally, there is no clear distinction between Western and Korean fashion. I could only say the latter carries a combination of Western style with more girlish touch. Korean fashion designers are not growing as successful as their garment industry. Most of the Korean fashion that people buy are unknown brands that do not carry distinct designers name nor style.

Despite that Korean fashion is so popular that we find them everywhere. These days, Korean wholesale clothing mushrooms in China, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan and many more places. What attracts the youngsters in buying Korean fashion? They are affordable and trendy.

If you were an importer, are you able to source and compete with prices? If you were brand owner, are you not tempted to include Korean style to meet demand?

Looks like Korean fashion is here to stay. Well, at least in Asia. How much has it affected your brand development direction? Will you move along or against this wave? This could be your next opportunity to grow too. Is it an opportunity or a threat? You decide.


Contributed by
Sarah MM, Founder and Director of Red Line – China Retail Help for Fashion and Lifestyle brands in market entry and brand development.

Jul 062013

Three dimensional map of China in Chinese flag colors.

Retail competitions have been very keen these days. Least to say, starting a retail business could be more challenging for designers and new brand owners. If you are looking at expanding into China, here are some tips that might save you cost and time. Be ready to find lots of dos and don’ts in this blog…. bare with me

1) Be different
There are so many brands entering China market daily, which is the one that will capture the audience? It is usually the one, which is different and brings in a refreshing look or idea.
Take a good look at your own brand. What you find common might be treasure to your target market. Look deep.

2) Hire local promoters
It is a natural course to begin China expansion through your China counterpart. However, besides language and culture support, you still need to seek professional help. Don’t totally rely on them.

Local service providers help to promote your brands and set up the entire operation when you do not want to do it internally. You need not reinvent the wheel.

Don’t leave your brand development totally to your agent or exporters without providing any real marketing support unless you just want to remain on trading ground and not developing your brand.

3) Brand name
Since most Chinese consumers are not comfortable with foreign language, have your brand name properly translated that they could say the name easily.
Don’t forget to register your trademark/brand. Believe me, it will avoid lots of painful legal issues in future. You don’t want to give away your hard work overnight.

4) Website
Ensure you have your website set up and you can be found. Buyers and distributors will first go online to check your brand out (almost immediately). It would be a disadvantage to you if you cannot be found online. SEO and search marketing will help your website receive higher exposure. It pays off in the long run.

Your website needs not be too decorative but should define clearly your brand and show off your product in a professional level. Don’t play down on your retail outlets, do show pictures of your shop front. Picture is worth a thousand words. Use them!

5) Pricing strategy
There is a magical price range for every product sells online.
Discount carries a heavy weight for online retail products. Both high end and low pricing products could benefit from such activities.
Price comparison always works well especially for merchandize with retail points. Customers already have the feel and touch advantages, they could easily be drawn into a buying mood if discount is good.

6) Logistic and Storage
Storing your goods in China is logical but complicated to exercise especially for branded products. Besides storage, you need to consider delivery cost, importation paperwork and taxation.
It is perhaps wise to consider using an e-Shop courier to handle delivery and storage and work from Hong Kong. Taking advantage of Hong Kong proximity and being a tax free zone, delivery would be faster compare to sending goods from overseas and enjoy an easy taxation system.

7) Payment
The most crucial part of your business is to receive orders and payment. Many Chinese consumers are uncomfortable paying through foreign credit card or PayPal. Some of the foreign e-Shops are facing such issues (my earlier blog explained that).

Have an agent or service provider to settle the payment on your behalf might be the quickest solution.

Entering into China marketing is like any other part of the world, but the process could be different due to policy and common practice. Make the first move and things will fall into places as you seek.

Share with us your retail success, tips or questions.


Contributed by
Sarah MM, Founder and Director of Red Line – China Retail Help

Jun 052013



Though online shoppers behave pretty much the same everywhere, some of the practice Chinese shoppers take are worth noticing.

China e-shoppers are growing to be more intelligent and well-informed. With the increasing number of e-retailers available, shoppers become more selective and demanding. If an e-shop is not bringing value to customers, they will not drive traffic.

Online buyers in China love to check things out before any purchase just like any other e-consumers elsewhere, however, how detailed they could be and the hours they are willing to spend on research are impressive.

Once a product draws the interest of an e-shopper, a thorough research will be conducted online or at retail point prior to purchase. China largest e-shopping platform, Taobao will not be missed out when come to product comparison. Though it is not a comparison shop, it certainly serves a dual-function for most Chinese from apparel to cars.

Consumers will find out about the product and what others have to say about it. They will take the pain in reading product descriptions. This is where retailer’s online selling skill and search marketer face the challenge. Not only do retailers need to give a $10 product a million-dollar look, they need to engage their community on a wide social media network.

Consumers always look for a bargain and will spend time to compare prices. It is common to find many offers of the same product on China e-shops. This triggers many brands to rethink about their online retail structure, which we will not discuss here.

Sometimes cheapest might not be the key decision factor neither does freight duration and cost affect the purchase, if it is an essential item to buyers, eg. baby milk powder. Buying from a reliable source is vital to consumers. For cosmetics, they might not consider official site if a reliable source at lower price is available. China e-shoppers will first consider the price then brand for ready-to-wear apparel. Unless they really want a particular item that is nowhere to be found, they will purchase from overseas eShops.

In general, Chinese e-shoppers’ buying steps are pretty much the same as the rest of the world. However, they tend to be more thorough before they make the purchase and they are pretty skillful in the process. Buying locally will be their first choice. Suppliers who are most engaging on a social level will gain bigger ground. Bottom line, engaging suppliers with best price, reliable and quality products win the customers. What have you done to engage yours?

May 182013


China has often been included in many fashion retailers’ global market expansion   plan. The players do not stop at retailers. Online shops like ASOS, net-a-porter, yoox and Amazon are making lots of effort in establishing their presence in China.

Obviously, China population does contribute to this huge market. Taobao is presently the largest e-commerce player in China. It has over 39% of China online retail market with over 50’000 online transactions per minute[1]. It is not surprising to see overseas brands wanting a share of this market.

What does it take to establish e-shop in China? Here are some basics you need to know:

Let’s start with the obvious. Your site should be in Chinese, which means you need some Chinese expert who is in this field to get it set up. You best bit would be someone in China as they already know market requirements and norms.

Another question is where you should host your site. You should consider hosting it in China, if you wish to handle local transaction and runs your site with reasonable speed. To set up an e-shop in China or any website, you need to get approval from the government. Not to worry, this is only a small part that is manageable, but it would take 3 months to get it ready.

Besides an inviting site with good products and attractive pricing, don’t forget your customer service and logistic. Chinese consumers take time to find out details about the product before their purchase. It is very common to receive lots of queries from buyers. A customer service line is an assurance to your customers, you will need that.

Though credit cards are very common in China, many e-shoppers prefer paying through Alipay. There are other services available, but you will not go wrong with this. Online transaction in China is pretty well controlled and taxable. Leave that to your local accountant to manage it.

Delivery lead time for online shopping is average 2-5 days in China. Consumers buy less from overseas site due to high freight cost and long delivery lead-time in addition to payment preference. Unless it is an essential product like milk powder, not many are willing to pay through unknown resources. Tips : If your products are made in China, consider Hong Kong as your storage and delivery point. You will find it more manageable in freight cost, delivery and taxation.

All that are mentioned here, we went through them and cost us investment dollars and time. Not that we have the infrastructure set up, we do not stop there. As China e-commerce marketing is growing, more competitions pour in. Without promotion, we are unable to reach our target customers. After several tests, we resort to social media marketing. This, we find is the best way to connect to our customers and have a sustainable growth.

Our China site now hosts over thousand of selected local suppliers on Taobao retail platform. It is time for overseas retailers to move in. You no longer need to go through the pain we went through. Start selling into China by simply having a good storyline, right pricing and making your goods available. Sounds too good to be true? Yes, it is that fast to set up your China e-shop. If you wish to know more, please send us an e-mail with your questions.


Sarah MM Chiang, founder of Red Line Ltd in Hong Kong and China, China Retail