China Digital Business eCommerce Fashion Life in China Lifestyle Marketing MBADMB Outils 2.0 platforms Retail Shanghai Success in China

Luxury and Digital in China: E-commerce Precursors

While luxury and digital are often two contradictory universes, some brands evolve to meet their most important customers: Chinese people. You will discover three pioneering cases of Chinese luxury brand which have decided do not stay away from digital and e-commerce.

Burberry: The professional of Online to Offline

Burberry is an example in digital transformation with a total adaptation to the Chinese market.

The prestigious English brand seduces all the young and rich Chinese public. That’s why, it’s in the 5th place of the classification because it allows its customers to make prestige and success clear. The brand sees its sales increase each year in Asia Pacific and take 40% of its revenues from Chinese consumers.
All of these successes were possible thanks to the adaptation of Burberry to its Chinese customers. The house began to know its customers, to discover their habit and culture rather than to impose its rules.

The luxury house has changed its strategy for a digital distribution

Since the Chinese are very digitized, the brand bet on the OtoO to be connected with its customers. Their first connected shop opened in 2011, the first high-tech store in Beijing. Giant screen in the middle of the shop to transcribe the fashion show, touch screens available for customers who can consult the collection and the stocks, iPad for the staff, animation in shop, etc. The launch of this shop has left its mark on alternation of holograms and real models during fashion show presented in front of 1000 guests.

But that’s not all. In 2014, the brand was the first to open its e-shop on Tmall, the Chinese giant e-commerce platform. With this shop, Burberry gets closer to its local customers and their expectations. Above all, the brand ensures the authenticity of their product. With that, the house participates in the fight against counterfeit Chinese products.


The company has also evolved its strategy on social networks by investing in local social networks.

She bets on Chinese social networks starting with Weibo. In fact, in 2011, Burberry presented its fashion show broadcast live on Weibo allowing thousands of fans to follow remotely and discover the new collection. Engaging its community, Burberry has created a true relationship with its customers.

For the Chinese New Year, Burberry has seduced its customers by its WeChat campaign , the social network the most used in China. In 2016, the brand launched a game. By touching or shaking their phone, customers unpacked their gifts. Once done, they could send personalized Hongbaos to their contact. The brand organized a contest to win a limited edition envelope and an assortment of gifts such as scarves or leather goods.

Dior, luxury pioneer on WeChat

Dior, the second most preferred luxury brand in China, revolutionized the e-commerce strategy of luxury brand as it bet on WeChat to reach its Chinese clientele. The house saw its sales increase in 2016 by + 5% at constant exchange rate, a success despite the loss of Chinese customers who buy in Europe.

It is for this reason that the brand decided to launch a new sales channel for luxury brands in China: the commercialization of a limited edition of one of its handbags on WeChat.

In August 2016, the French luxury house decided to innovate on the occasion of the Festival Tanabata. On August 1, she created it WeChat e-commerce account and published a word to announce the availability of the “Lady Dior Small China Valentine” on the online shop for the Qixi Celebration. The brand had planned 200 copies of the bag, sold at 28,000 yuan (about 3770 euros), for its campaign for 4 days. But in just a few hours, the stock has run out.

The company has combined its launch with a complete customer experience. It uses video product discovery, personalization of its purchase, online payment via WeChatPay and AliPay. While Dior is not the first brand to launch this kind of campaign on WeChat, it remains the first luxury brand to have done so.


Givenchy : the good partnership

Givenchy, under the influence of Riccardo Tisci, its Artistic Director, strongly changed its strategy. It increases its sales by 50% by 2015. The brand has multiplied by 4 its sales since 2010 and has improve its profitability.The house has bet on a disruptive communication, out of step with the “politeness and the agreed”.

She took the turn of social networks but it also surrounded itself with famous friends like Kim Kardashian or Jay-Z. They became  true ambassadors for the brand. Thanks to this new strategy, the brand has gained great notoriety, renewing the link with its customers.

Very discreet in China this recent years, the brands quickly received an interest of this Chinese clientele. So, the House quickly became available to them by investing local social networks like Weibo or WeChat.

And where the brand has succeeded, it is by working in collaboration with a famous KOL: “Mr.Bags”. This Chinese niche blogger, present on WeChat since 2011, has built a fan community estimated at 1.2 million followers.

Givenchy and Mr.Bag worked together for the exclusive sale of a limited edition of 80 handbags. They were sold for 14,000 RMB (about 2000 euros). Once the blogger had promoted the offer, it took only 12 minutes to be sold out, thus realizing 1,192,000 RMB of turnover (about 160,000 euros)!


Why such a success?

This is due to the special appeal of the Chinese to the KOL and the confidence they give to them. The limited edition and time also played, supporting the idea of differentiation and exclusivity. Like Dior one year earlier, Givenchy bet on a specific date, the Chinese Valentine’s Day. It encouraged all men to buy this gift from their partner.


China Life in China Lifestyle MBADMB Shanghai Success in China

Top 10 of the most weird things in China

When we arrive in Shanghai, it’s amazing ! We walk around one of the largest megalopolises in the world with no less than 24 million inhabitants. We discover a big city with buildings, each bigger than the others, and big arteries, all of that delicately combine with the historical area. And yet … even if it’s ultra-modern and Westernized, it is really surprising! Let us take a tour of 10 most weird things that amaze and, sometimes, stupefy when we arrive from our so “clean” West.


  1. Chinese people love mobile phones

The plane is just landing at the Shanghai airport and we are going to take the subway. Surprises begin. If it says that the Parisian subway is terrible and everyone sulk, the Shanghai’s subway is not so different.

On one hand, we have to avoid people who jostle and sweep away everything and everyone in their way.

Then, I hope nobody want to talk to neighbors … They are absolutely ALL on their phone and pass their entire journey head down and concentrated. They take advantage of these long journeys to watch their favorite series or video clips and play mobile games.


Subway mobile phone chinese


  1. Scooters and Traffic

Then, comes the time to get out of the subway. As a good tourist we are, we walk, head in the air, to look at what surround us. But, arrive the moment where you have to cross. Well disciplined, we wait wisely on the sidewalk that our little figure goes green and hop! Let’s go! ERROR! In China, on the road, you need to know that is the jungle’s law.

So buses, these metal monsters do not hesitate to rush us on crushing everything in their path. You think that cars are more cordial and friendly but NO. If you have the misfortune to cross when it is not your turn, an advice, RUN! They will not slow down for you and, even between them, if one stops, the one that follows it will prefer to circumvent it. And that, even if it can create an accident.

And finally, don’t forget scooter! In the “food chain” of Shanghai traffic, comes the place of two-wheelers. They will always have priority over you. They can arrive in all directions on the road but also on the sidewalks. So BE CAREFUL!


Traffic scooter, car, bus


  1. The squatting pose

After having survived crossing the street, we continue our walk. At one time, we look on our side and we see some Chinese people squatting, feet flat on the ground, eating their meals, chatting with each other or looking at their phone. Although not extraordinary, the number of Chinese people who stay in this position, in every area of the city surprises a lot!


chinese people squatting on the street


4.    The sputum

If the “squatting poses” surprises, another common practice of people from shanghai disturbs us or disgust us: the sputum!In the street, Chinese people have this dirty habit to realize, freely in the street, next to our ears and above all, before our eyes, a kind of sweeping of their throat.. really bad to heard, but more of that; really bad to SEE.


Chinese who spit


  1. Pajamas as casual wear

When the end of the day is coming, we continue our walk in the heart of the city, and we meet some interesting Chinese people dressed really funny. Indeed, it is not uncommon to meet them dressed in their finest clothes … pajamas! Pilou pilou, polar, printed, all kinds of pajamas that it is comical to see in the street.


pyjama's kooples


  1. Dressed dogs

Another surprising practice. If in the West, we like to dress our dear companions of life, Chinese people LOVE it. Besides the small outfit that suits them well, as dress, body, tutu and other, they are very sensitive to hygiene and oblige their dogs to wear small shoes that makes very funny situation!


dressed dogs


  1. Children “poopy crack”

Children in China are cherished and loved more than anything. The one-child policy has made that parents give them everything. And sometimes too much … Whether it is by laziness or by facility, Chinese parents have found an incredible solution to let their little babies and us, as freely as possible: the “poopy gap”. It consists of cutting the pants of their toddler at the level of their buttocks in order to bring an exit, as we can say… express …!


poopy crack


  1. Laundry dries in the street and often with food

The eighth point that astonishes when we walk in town, is the washing that dries in the street. So yeah, we could just say “what? Everyone has to dry his laundry!” Except that it is very surprising in the big cities to see this at the windows or in the alleys of our residence. It is more strange to feel an underpants or a bra in your head … Worse still, it arrives that clothes drying just nearby some food like duck, sausage etc.


clothes and food


  1. Chicken plucked on the Street

The last two points that disturb us are the relation to food in the street … Not for the faint of heart!

It is not uncommon to walk down the street next to small shops, and see chickens (that you’ll eat at lunch) in their cages. Already, don’t be shocked by the number of chicken in the same place. And after that, if you prefer to eat the chicken without knowing how it is prepared, it is better to don’t look at it, they are plucked in the street!


chicken scooter


10.Gutted fish on the sidewalkSame for the fish placed on the floor which is scaled, opened and cleaned out in front of our eyes …!


fish in the street


China Digital Business eCommerce Outils 2.0 platforms Retail

Chinese e-commerce strategy: E-marketplace, Social e-commerce or own website?

China is the biggest e-commerce market in the world and is set to grow by 15 per cent by 2020. The massive arrival of smartphones and tablets in China quickly enabled 76% of connected Chinese to make purchases via their mobile. This internet penetration linked to the mobile equipment will boom in rural China in 2017.
There are several things to know if you want to meet the expectations of Chinese consumers: it would be a huge mistake for a foreign company to reproduce its current strategy on the Chinese market thinking that it will suffice! Unlike in the Western markets, building a brand-owned website is most of the time not the best strategy. Let’s see why.

1.   What type of e-commerce should I use?

China has great potential and offers many opportunities to foreign companies. But brands and agencies are always facing the same question:

Should I launch a stand-alone website, be on the Alibaba’s marketplace Tmall, or open a store on WeChat?

Stand-alone websites are usually good representations of your brand in a market, a way to develop and tap into different markets. It permits to create interactions between the brand and customers, to facilitate sales and so to obtain some data about them. However, in China stand-alone websites are generating only 10% of the total e-commerce sales. If your brand awareness is low, you brand is bond to drown in the Internet Ocean. This is due to the different approach that consumers take into getting to know a brand. Chinese consumers, compared to Western ones, use less web search engines like Baidu when they are looking for information about a brand or a product. Mostly, they go directly to popular e-marketplaces such as Taobao and Tmall.

Flagship on market places are virtual storefronts where consumers can visit to buy a product or service of their choosing. In China, Alibaba with its Taobao and Tmall dominates the e-marketplace landscape. The large selection of brands and products available on these platforms satisfies the expectations of Chinese consumers who mainly seek choice, speed of delivery, practicality and simplicity of action. Marketplaces like Tmall or are the main strategic entry points for foreign brands’ China market penetration. During the last 11/11, the most important online sales period in the world, Alibaba set a record of $17,8 billions in GMV.

Social messaging commerce is the using of messaging app like WeChat to sell product directly to users. At the beginning, WeChat was just a messaging app but, quickly, it included other functions like social media and web browser. It gave the opportunity to brands to push content through articles, HTML5 pages and  provide added value services. The core of WeChat e-commerce is the electronic wallet and offline payment Tenpay. To use WeChat as e-commerce, a brand has two possibilities.

The first one is to link the existing brand website to the Brand Official WeChat Account. The second one is creating WeChat Shops perfectly embedded into the platform. Thanks to the “one-click-payment” consumers can seamlessly purchase products without having to leave WeChat.
WeChat also gives the possibility of including a customer service into the brand Official Account. Here consumers can ask brands direct questions by just texting them and receive immediate answers.

But, making your products available on messaging apps creates the same challenges as selling on your own website. If brand awareness among consumers is low, none of them will follow the brand account and therefore, see your product.
Chinese e-commerce Pros vs Cons

In China, the e-commerce battle is currently happening in marketplaces. Regardless your industry, your target consumers are most likely using these marketplaces on a daily basis and your product or service must be on these platforms.

E-marketplaces have another advantage for brands’ distribution strategy: logistic.
Selling in China means delivering products throughout a huge territory, bigger than Europe itself. Import fees, warehouse renting, delivery team, in-house resources, etc.

2.   Chinese e-commerce leaders

The Chinese e-marketplace’s landscape is clearly dominated by two leaders: Alibaba and JD.COM. Yet, the two groups are based on two very different business models. To make a comparison with similar business models in Western markets, Alibaba would be similar to E-bay, offering B2B trading with, B2C with and C2C with Conversely, is more like Amazon, selling directly to its customers from its warehouses across China.

Alibaba, including Tmall and Taobao, and JD.COM represent more than 80% of the market share of the B2C and C2C e-commerce in China.

This means that these two platforms are virtually unavoidable making brands completely dependent to them. In order to avoid this, brands should carefully diversify their e-commerce strategy by selecting the platforms according to their industry and target consumers.


Figure 1 Market Share of Main Players (iResearch)

Being visible on these platforms is not simple considering the impressive number of brands hosted. Brands have to pay very expensive fees to be visible and push their products on the home page or appear at the top of the list for global searches. At the same time, the costs of entering these platforms are often high depending on the product category.

3.    What are the different types of e-commerce platform

Generalist and specialized platform

Going into e-commerce in China is certainly an imperative but it is also necessary to know what type of platform suites your brand and industry the best. There are two types of e-marketplaces, different in their positioning.

Generalist platforms, offering a wide variety of product within numerous product categories. This is the case of Tmall, JD or Suning where consumers can buy a computer as well as a bottle of wine, a moisturizer as well as dried beef.

Specialized platforms are proposing products for a specific category such as Food (Epermarket, Womai, Yihao Dian or Kate & Kimi); Cosmetics (Jumei, Strawberrynet or Sasa) Fashion (Yoox, Meilishuo or Yesstyle) Or Tourism (Ctrip, Tuniu or Alitrip.)

landing-page tmall


Cross-border platform models

In order to be present in these Chinese e-marketplaces, brands must have a legal presence in China. But not all is lost for foreign brands that want to tap China market without physically venturing into the market. Tmall and offer the opportunity to foreign companies to sell products in China through special platforms specifically dedicated to foreign brands without a Chinese business license – Tmall Global and JD Worldwide.

The fee to be on these platforms is significantly higher compared to their Chinese native counterparts. It is also compulsory for foreign brands to teem up with an e-commerce agency (also know as TP – Tmall Partner) for local operations like domestic warehousing, national delivery service, Chinese speaking customer service and return policy referenced to a Chinese local address.

Despite the relatively higher operational fees, these platforms provide brands with some significant advantages such as higher exposure and communication based on quality assurance (Western products are generally more trusted compared to local Chinese ones) – “100% foreign original authentic”, “100% foreign merchants”, “100% domestic return”. Many brands at a very early stage of their market entry strategy prefer to pay a higher fee to be on Tmall Global or JD Worldwide and rely on a TP for e-commerce operations rather than rushing into huge investments to build a physical presence in the market.

This strategy also allows them to collect data on the market as well as their consumer. This is very useful to apply a test and lean approach and readjust if necessary their second stage of their e-commerce strategy

4.   Conclusion

The e-commerce platforms are extremely important and used in China and whether it is a small unknown brand or a well know brand, it is equally preferable to opt for a presence on these platforms. However, while minimizing costs on certain points, they are not accessible free of charge and it is important to consider their advantages and disadvantages before making the choice.

Based on our experiences in digital strategy, performance analysis and personalization, we are strongly convinced foreign brands have to define a rolling plan to implement and continuously analyze digital projects; within this complex and dynamic market, a test-and-learn approach is not an option but an obligation to reduce risks.

A good strategy is to start to reach your audience using super-marketplaces or messaging apps. You can then allocate products and resources over different platforms, owned and paid. The mix will depend your size, strategy and resources.


Written with the collaboration of Pierre Gomeriel, Data Analyst & Innovation Lab Manager at Equancy Shanghai

China eCommerce Events MBADMB

Save the date : January 10th, Afterwork French Tech Shanghai

Tuesday, January 10th, the French Tech Shanghai’ll organize a new afterwork at the famous Kartel bar on the theme of e-commerce.


Event FTSH 13.12 Stephanie Decollas

Indeed, on December 13th, the MBA DMB assisted to the launching of the first French Tech Shanghai afterwork, since its inauguration last October. It was hosted at Kartel, the trendy Shanghai bar privatized for the evening.

During this event, Greg Prudhommeaux presented the Open Pitch Sessions and shared all the keys to pitch a project. This intra-entrepreneur who has been in China for more than 10 years brings his market expertise, and thanks to his network, concrete solutions for the people who contact him.



Open Pitch takes place every second Tuesday of each month. Start-uper will have the opportunity to come and pitch their project: 10 minutes of presentation, 10 minutes of Q&A followed by 10 minutes of Feedbacks delivered by expert.

The jury, made up of marketing professionals, digital experts, entrepreneurs, lawyers specialized in the Chinese market but also potential investors, will give its opinion with three possible answers:


  1. You are ready! In which case, French Tech will help them find potential partners and investors
  2. You’re almost there! Still some small adjustments to make before returning to a next session
  3. Not yet there. The concept may not have been finalized yet and it will have to come back when the necessary adjustments have been made


The evening was followed by drinks between the guests present to discover and discuss common subjects.
Afterwork French Tech Shanghai

On October 13th, the Shanghai Hub officially joined the French Tech network and is working today to create a real community of start-ups and innovative French companies in Shanghai. It makes the audacious bet to highlight these French tech companies by putting forward professionals from different industries represented in Shanghai during the Open Pitch. Thanks to this, it responds to its three main missions:


  • Assemble: Group French Tech professionals, for easy access, collaboration and projects
  • Amplify: Be a single voice for the community and give everybody a voice to the outside world
  • Accelerate: Help local French entrepreneurs grow, open Shanghai eco-system to French companies

Action FrenchTechSH

For more information, you can consult the report of the evening on the official WeChat account of French Tech Shanghai. Follow future events and the open pitch coming on :

  • Twitter : @MBADMB, @LaFrenchTechSHA and also the hashtag #MBADMB
  • WeChat : LaFrenchTechShanghai