With over 710 million Internet users and 448 million online shoppers, China has the world’s largest Internet population and also the largest eCommerce market. Moreover, the country’s affluent middle class is growing, as is disposable income, and consumers are looking abroad for premium goods and services. With a presence in Beijing and Sydney, Aussie tech start-up Sinorbis is attuned to the massive opportunity these numbers represent for Australian SMBs.
Co-founded by Nicolas Chu, the company’s Sydney-based CEO, and Allen Qu, the Beijing-based digital marketing expert who founded Netconcepts China, Sinorbis connects local businesses to the burgeoning population of digital consumers in China through a range of digital marketing services.
Since launching this year, the company has signed with prominent Australian businesses such as BridgeClimb, the REA Group, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Tasmania.
Having recently closed a $1.5m seed round, the co-founders are now focused on the launch, early next year, of an online marketing platform which will provide a one-stop-shop for Western companies to generate qualified Chinese leads.
Chu leads the company’s Australian sales and technology operations, leveraging his experience implementing major technology platforms for Expedia and Hotelclub. He spoke to Dynamic Business about opportunities for local SMBs to generate sales in China.
Why do Aussies good and services resonate in China?
“As Chinese consumers become more affluent, they are looking for high quality services and premium products that enhance their lifestyles. Increasingly, Australian products in China are in demand as the “Australia brand” is considered to be premium, of high quality, natural, healthy, authentic, and one that Chinese consumers trust. Travel, education, real estate and products associated with wellbeing such as health foods and supplements are particularly attractive to Chinese consumers.”
How can local SMB hope to attract Chinese consumers?
“Critical to success in the Chinese online market is understanding that it operates very differently to the online landscape in Australia. Australian businesses wanting to attract Chinese buyers would need to:
- Invest in a Chinese website, accessible from China;
- Take advantage of mobile phone penetration;
- Build a reputation online;
- Localise revenue/profit model; and
- Have a targeted approach.”
What barriers are there to conducting business in China?
“Conducting businesses in China can be difficult. China has a completely different and unfamiliar online ecosystem to Australia, the Internet is regulated by what is known as the ‘Great Firewall’, and a lack of understanding about Chinese consumers creates difficultly in effectively targeting them.
“Ecosystem: Chinese search engines, social media platforms and mobile phone applications vary to Australia’s. Facebook and Twitter are blocked. Google is not accessible. Australian businesses need to re-learn how to do things online in China.
“Regulated Internet: China has numerous regulations and internet restrictions foreign to Australia. For example, to host a website in China, an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license would need to be applied for and approved.
“Chinese consumers: China’s online consumers are young and affluent. They aspire to own more, are brand conscious, and predominately access the Internet from a mobile phone. Reputation and trust is also a key feature of Chinese consumerism and shoppers rank their friends’ recommendations, both online and offline, as the most important factor in their online buying choices.”
See also: It’s a digital jungle out there: Dr Matthew Mcdougall; helping businesses overcome ‘culture shock’ in China