COMMENT: Are you missing out on the world‘s biggest online shopping day?

Singles Day

Singles‘ Day, the Chinese antidote to Valentine‘s Day, falls on November 11 and invites China‘s bachelors and bachelorettes to celebrate their single status by buying themselves a present.

Last year, £9.4 billion was spent in China alone – a whopping 60 per cent increase on 2014. Recent PayPal research with Ipsos suggests British online retailers could benefit too, with 21.9 million Chinese consumers shopping “across borders” from British online stores last year.

In fact, according to the research, nearly half of Chinese online shoppers are more likely to shop on foreign websites during retail holidays and promotional periods, like Singles‘ Day, than they are during normal periods.

For those looking to start taking advantage of this lucrative sales opportunity, here are the key things that can make a big difference to attracting overseas shoppers:

Know your customer

Every overseas market is unique – and its shoppers will have their own preferred products, brands, habits, customs, drivers and turn-offs that affect how and when they buy abroad.

China is no exception. For example, one of the primary reasons Chinese shoppers buy British is because they trust the authenticity and quality of the products.

So, British retailers looking to appeal to Chinese customers should make the brand clearly visible on their website and highlight their product‘s authenticity.


Make them feel at home

We know that Chinese shoppers are more likely to make a purchase online if they can pay in US dollars and browse in their local language. Taking the time to make changes to your website will pay dividends during the 24 hour sales boom of Singles‘ Day.

We also know that the two most common reasons for Chinese shoppers abandoning a purchase at the checkout are high shipping costs and lengthy delivery times. Businesses looking to capitalise may want to consider reducing delivery fees and times, and building a landing page that highlights that you ship to China.

Smartphone nation

With over a billion smartphone users in China, it‘s also crucial to think about how easily your customers can browse and pay on your website using their mobiles. Implementing a mobile optimised payment option such as PayPal, can help drive sales.

But don‘t just take it from me – Bells Shoes, an independent footwear retailer, has seen first-hand the impact tailoring its approach to local shoppers can have on its sales. They cracked the Chinese market by creating a dedicated local language website for Chinese shoppers, clearly laying out all the key information about Bells Shoes, including details of its products and how it ships directly to China from the UK. This was all the reassurance shoppers needed and they have since seen online sales to Chinese customers increase by 258 per cent year-on-year.

Take some advice

There is a wealth of online tools and resources available to help you plan for international online sales.

PayPal‘s PassPort is designed to help retailers expand their global sales: offering country-specific guidance on seasonal sales peaks; cultural customs, taboos and trends; shipping and distribution logistics; currency exchange and fees; and customs procedures and taxes.

Simon Moran is PayPal UK‘s General Manager of Merchant Services

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