7 Reasons You Don’t Need A Chinese Website
If you’re getting ready to launch your business in China, you’ll probably have a long list of things to do in preparation.
One of the major tasks is likely to be setting up a Chinese website. As a marketing consultancy based in the UK, we can understand why: it’s key to getting found on Google, reinforcing credibility and driving sales in the west. However, China is a little different.
In this article, we explore some of the reasons you might not need a Chinese website and what you can do instead.
SuperApps provide vital functionality
Many mobile apps provide the tools that businesses need to sell products and services in China. WeChat, for instance, allows companies to build brand awareness by setting up an official profile. They can also create in-app microsites for browsing and buying products via its ‘Mini Programs’ service, while handling payments using WePay. Taobao and Tmall, both owned by Alibaba, similarly allow ecommerce brands to create their own storefronts, with live-chat functionality built in.
Many Chinese apps now allow businesses to claim “verified” status. China is keen to crack down on the availability of counterfeit items, and verified status is a way for brands to prove they are who they say they are.
Search engine confusion
There are lots of search engines to choose from in the Chinese market. Although Baidu is currently dominant, handling more than 70% of search queries, use is declining thanks to over-zealous advertising and poor-quality results. In the meantime, ByteDance, owner of the social platform TikTok, has launched its own search engine, Toutiao Search. If you’re considering launching a Chinese website optimised for Baidu, you may need to reoptimise for a different search engine in coming years.
UX best practice
Western web design practices take a back seat in China. Just take a look at Tmall to see what we mean. Website layouts often appear busy and link-heavy, contrary to what you might consider to be best practice. Setting up a presence on an existing platform might be easier, using another their templates and layouts to provide the experience that Chinese users are looking for.
All websites hosted in Mainland China need at least one license (the ICP) to go live on the internet. Getting one of these can be a complicated affair, especially if you don’t have a physical presence in the country. It only tends to be available for Chinese businesses, or joint ventures, where more than 50% is owned by a Chinese business. These complications can be avoided by creating a presence on WeChat, Tmall, JD.com or Taobao.
The Great Firewall
The Great Firewall, officially known as The Golden Shield, was set up to censor and block websites hosted outside of Mainland China. If you can’t get hold of the appropriate licenses, you will be unable to host your website on the mainland. As a result, you may have to resort to hosting in Hong Kong or Taiwan. This is likely to slow your site speed or cause it to be banned altogether.
On the subject of site speed, you should consider that infrastructure in China isn’t as advanced as it is in the west. Internet data transfer speeds lag behind many other countries. This means sites take longer to load – especially if they’re image or video heavy. As with western websites, you’re likely to lose traffic, as users become impatient and bounce away from your site.
In conclusion, the Chinese internet experience is very different to that in the west and there are lots of reasons you might not create a website for this market. If you do, consider launching a scaled back version, with limited functionality and consult with experts in Chinese marketing.