With a population lately estimated around 720 million netizens and active at 85% every day, China internet has now become a gigantic node of interactions that brands need to constantly monitor to catch the latest trends and continue delivering successful services & products. At the heart of this new challenge: the tracking of quantitative and qualitative data.
With a population estimated around 720 million netizens and active at 85% every day, China internet has become a gigantic node of interactions that brands need to constantly monitor to catch the latest trends and continue delivering successful services & products. At the heart of this new challenge: the tracking of quantitative and qualitative data. Upon this inaugural article of the analytics series, we will dress up an overview of the Chinese analytics market over its different facets: characteristics, trends, challenges and tools. #1 Paid media concentrate most of attention Paid media (PPC & Display) historically dominate advertising digital investments, driven by the needs of reaching the masses and catching a maximum of visibility. However, while related technologies have gradually improved along the past years, allowing to target much more precisely specific audiences (e.g. programmatic buying), lots of marketers have continued to pilot their campaigns through generic KPIs, originally around ad centric measurement (impressions, clicks, CTR), but also more recently around site-centric measurement (pageviews, bounce-rate, conversions). In addition, Chinese paid media market also includes lots of fake traffic (robots) perturbing global analysis. As a direct consequence, the measure and comparison of the performance (ROI) between the different acquisition channels often remain unclear while efficient solutions actually exist (we will describe one below). #2 The Chinese internet: a complex terrain From a technical perspective now, the Chinese internet remains a constant challenge for digital analytics for two main reasons: Market is split between different ecosystems At the opposite of the West standards, China internet appears to be vertically organized around three pillars: Social media platforms (Wechat, Weibo, etc.) answering specific Chinese needs for feedbacks and interactions with brands Marketplaces (Taobao/Tmall, JingDong, etc.) concentrating most of online shopping activities Third-party websites (brands, portals, etc.) serving the informational needs about products and services And, as no bespoke user-centric analytics solution has been available on the market so far, data need to be aggregated manually from separate sources in order to draw the most accurate picture of the digital property, at the cost of a tedious (and time consuming) work. But one more time, solutions exist. Market is quickly evolving As many already know, China is a place where everything is used to going a little faster than anywhere else in the world. This characteristic is especially true on the Internet where technologies drive constant new usage and ease. 2016 has therefore been the year of the mobile with a penetration rate of over 90% of total Chinese netizens. Here also, this new trend came along with some tracking technical issues such as the accurate recognition of “phablets” (huge smartphones between mobile and tablet devices that knew a certain success in China). #3 Latest analytics trends On top of the specific market & technic issues mentioned above, China digital analytics will also face more global challenges in 2017:     - Attribution: understanding the relations between the different acquisition levers that lead to the final conversion, to optimize advertising investments. - Conversion Rate Optimization: optimizing on-site user experience to maximize conversions without massive increase of investment. - Data visualization: drawing performance report through clear indicators to detect trends ahead and smooth decision-making process. #4 Web analytics tools Originally existing through a myriad of tools developed either by brands or web agencies and mainly based on server logs, Chinese web analytics tools remained for a long time limited to basic tracking only. However, rapid developments in the digital landscape helped revamp the offer. Below is a list of what we believe are the most representative tools on the market today. Google Analytics, the reference Often falsely accused of perturbing page loading time when not of being totally blocked (as is the Google suite in China), the tool still appears as one of the most effective solution available on the market and is often quoted as much for its tracking flexibility (making possible to track international campaigns over different sources and mediums - e.g. PPC, affiliation, programmatic buying), as for its flexible reports allowing to cross metrics and dimensions together, and therefore accessing data at an unprecedented level, eventually driving analytics to its latest extensions: bringing UX and technical insights. Baidu Tongji, the complementary tool As often in China, local competitors imitate leading products: Baidu Tongji is probably the most emblematic example. However, if Baidu Tongji mostly focus on chasing after Google Analytics - but always a bit behind the times, marketers still refer to it for local search campaigns as the tool is, for instance, the unique way to retrieve Baidu SEO keywords. Google Data Studio, the game changer Newcome of the Google suite, Data Studio aims at providing powerful reports that talk to their target thanks to a simple and intuitive layout. While the tool was initially conceived to dynamically retrieve data from Google Analytics, it also supports manual imports allowing the display of data coming from other channels (social media, etc), which turn it into a well-adapted tool for the Chinese market situation, Also: read our detailed introduction of Google Data Studio. Conclusion In 2016, while the Chinese internet has finally found its DNA, China slowing economy has led brands to develop sustainable growth, and yet, only a few of them have chosen to take advantages of the (numerous) analytics benefits, mostly for lack of knowledge. In the next articles of this series, altima° China digital analytics experts will share concrete insights to help you better understand and handle this critical phase in your digital adventures. Stay tuned.
The booming Chinese e-commerce market makes a compelling case for global brands to localise their platform and services. The stake of not adapting is rather high, not to say radically disqualifying. Here, we provide a handful of tips which are worth considering when localizing your e-commerce platform.
The booming Chinese e-commerce market makes a compelling case for global brands to localise their platform and services. The stake of not adapting is rather high, not to say radically disqualifying. Here, we provide a handful of tips which are worth considering when localizing your e-commerce platform. 1) Online Chat Presence “One of the most distinctive online habits among Chinese consumers is the tendency to prefer instant messaging (IM) over e-mail. For instance, 87 percent of Chinese digital consumers use the Internet for IM” - BCG report “China’s Digital Generations 2.0 When it comes to online shopping, most Chinese consumers don’t take it lightly. When encountering an inquiry which requires an answer, according to researches, most shoppers prefer talking directly to customer services over waiting for an email reply. As different as it might sound, potential customers will be more likely to be turned away if a live chat is not properly implemented on your e-commerce site, regardless of how established your brand is at a global scale. In fact, most e-commerce websites in China are equipped with at least 2 formats of live chat for shoppers to choose from, especially highlighted in the product detail page where users need the most support. While localizing its content for the China market,  the korean online shopping site, Stylenanda, implemented a live chat in a prominent place: Booking.com puts its 24/7 hotline at the bottom of the page: altima° helped one of its clients, Thomas Cook, bringing their service to China. Live chat is among one of the UX improvements which was later implemented on their new site. 2) Easy Single Sign In The popularity of emails in China is not as high as in Western countries except for working purposes. Thus, for the local market, there are two common ways to login and register: through third party platforms or mobile numbers. Websites could be directly using the information retrieved from third party platforms by using third-party login, which helps save time for users to register. In addition to that, using mobile numbers to register is not only convenient for users to manage the account, but also good for the brand to ensure the authenticity of users information. Users can login with their WeChat and/or Weibo account on Tripadvisor’s Chinese site. Amazon.cn uses mobile numbers and WeChat accounts as the approach to register. Local social media accounts and mobile numbers can also be used to log in on Sephora.cn. 3) Category/Navigation Bar Major Chinese e-commerce websites use two kinds of navigation bars: the vertical mega menu on the left side, which helps refine the classification of products, and the horizontal navigation bar on top. Case: My protein is an European leading sport nutrition brand. When localizing their online shopping website in China, they split their sport supplements and protein powders into different categories, while it was only one on the original site. Instead of putting sport supplements in the navigation bar, they create a “Foodie” area on their Chinese website, considering that Asians put great attention to food related things. Skyscanner adds traveling inspirations and App downloading on their Chinese website. PayPal translated their navigation to fit the Chinese context, and add the receive the payment of foreign trade part according to Chinese use cases. Decathlon.cn changes their horizontal menu to the mega menu and highlights the sports filter. 4) The Uprising Social Media Tools in China        “ Social media is the key to success for e-commerce companies in China. ” A brand that wants to attract as many Chinese customers as possible do not want to miss out Chinese social media tools, such as Wechat and Weibo. Weibo is known as the “Chinese Twitter”, and it has become one of the most influential Social Network Service (SNS) in China. The other one, Wechat, would be more like a mobile Facebook, adapted to the Chinese market. As most of the transactions on Wechat happen between acquaintances, the conversion rate is subsequently higher on Wechat than on Weibo, given that sharings and recommendations coming from friends are more likely to striking than neutral postings. There is another online social community that’s worth mentioning, which is Zhihu. Zhihu is a Chinese version of Quora which captures a considerable amount of frequent and loyal users. It is no wonder that it has become the rising star among PR specialists from different brands. Overall, most companies use local social media platforms to promote and run campaigns. However, these could also be potentially leveraged to offer better customer services. Users could indeed follow social media accounts to ask questions and gain information on the products and services they are interested in. For example, some airline companies are starting to offer check-in services to users on their Wechat public account. The most relevant function related to social media on cross-border e-commerce platforms is sharing. Share buttons are usually put under the product’s picture or under the product’s title. Sometimes, when there is too much information on the product’s page, websites put share buttons on the right floating bar. To share product pages via Wechat, users can scan the related QR code. Amazon.cn puts local social media share icons under the product title. The Chinese version of TripAdvisor does not only highlight sharing functions on the right hand side, but also promotes their WeChat account under the photo gallery. While designing Bioderma’s Chinese website, we implemented share icons under the CTA, with a highlighted social media account link on the sticky bar, at the bottom. 5) Always Another Promotion Around the Corner! To leverage the mainstream sub-culture, most e-commerce websites regularly provide special local promotions to attract users. In recent years, merchants would manufacture “festivals” such as “11.11”, “12.12”, and “5.20”, to use them as the stunts for sales and promotions. In general, the information of promotion is put forward on banners, on the first screen. Here is how Sephora promotes their 11.11 sales information. Estee Lauder highlights the 11.11 campaign on their Chinese website in order to attract their targeted customers. Amazon.cn puts a slideshow in order to display their series of promotion event. 6) Trust is The Gold It is easy for shoppers to be skeptical while shopping online, hence the need of reassuring your customers on the fact that you are a reliable seller. As a matter of fact, there is very often a message of trust on Chinese e-commerce websites. For example, customers of fashion e-commerce websites are looking for proof of products authenticity and returning policy conditions. Reassuring notices are usually put on the header or on the pre-footer of the website. Clarins displays reassuring messages on the first screen of its Chinese website. Lookfantastic shows trust notices again on the checkout. Clinique’s Chinese website displays messages of trust on the product detail page. 7) Customer Info Regarding customers information, there are a couple of differences as well. For instance, Chinese users are usually not asked to fill in the post code. Unlike other citizens, most Chinese people don't know their exact post code, which anyway does not have any impact on the shipping process. Another specific information is the Fapiao. Fapiao are official invoices, registered at the local tax bureau, which are used as a final proof-of-purchase of a good or service. When purchasing goods for business use, consumers ask for a Fapiao as a proof. Not being able to provide Fapiaos to Chinese customers would constitute a large disadvantage compared to the competition. Estee Lauder has also changed the checkout form to ask for the user’s full name instead of his/her first and last names, in addition to adding a Fapiao field. 8) Tap, Scan and Pay Research shows that more than half of Chinese online shoppers would like to pay through third-party online payment platforms. In China, this business is blooming thanks to Alipay, WeChat pay and UnionPay (Quick & Online). Owned by Alibaba Group, Alipay is by far the biggest third-party payment platform. Aside from facilitating online transactions, Alipay has been diversifying their services, which include Yu’ebao - an online investment fund, and Ant Financial - an online financial service provider. WeChat Pay, developed by the IM giant Tencent, gained its popularity by offering a wide range of public services through it. As for UnionPay, it is the only domestic bank card issuer. While more than 70% of Chinese customers are using Alipay and Wechat pay, UnionPay failed to accumulate a user base as well as killer use cases. Over the course of time, using Alipay or Wechat payment is considered by most consumers as more convenient than using traditional Union Pay channels. Users can directly scan sellers’ QR code which supports Wechat or Alipay to pay the orders. Compared to filling all the bankcard information, scan and pay has quickly became the trend. E-commerce websites Revolve.com and lookfantastic.com added Alipay payment on their Chinese website. Club Med’s Chinese website – designed and developed by altima°, offers Alipay and Union pay as the 2 main methods of payment. 9) Real Inputs from Your Users Due to the lack of trust on product’s quality, more than 60% of Chinese customers tend to make payment decisions through product reviews. On most of the Chinese e-commerce websites, users are allowed to post opinions with pictures, and, are able to ask questions to those who already bought the product. Product reviews do not only allow users to know more about the product, but also encourage them to proceed to the transaction. Lancome’s and Bioderma’s Chinese site have added quite a lot of information on the product, compared to a short description on the original platforms.
"[at altima°] You’re not afraid of failing, we learn from our mistakes, and progress together [...] which enables everyone to grow faster, to push boundaries, to be more creative, and in the end, to be better. " Si has lived in Germany for about 6 years where she studied German and got a Master degree in International Management and Information System.
Read in 中文 "[at altima°] You’re not afraid of failing, we learn from our mistakes, and progress together [...] which enables everyone to grow faster, to push boundaries, to be more creative, and in the end, to be better. " Si has lived in Germany for about 6 years where she studied German and got a Master degree in International Management and Information System. After a first professional experience at Daimler AG in Stuttgart, she made the choice to leave the land of Beethoven in July 2016 to head back to China, where she has continued her career at altima° Beijing, as a digital Project Executive. Young, and full of energy, Si has been successfully embracing her responsibilities to quickly become a strong asset to the team. Why choosing to leave Germany, country of chocolate and Sauerkraut, to come back to China? Si Shen: Well, this might not sound like a serious argument, but I’m pretty sure most Chinese who have spent a few years abroad will agree: there is nothing like Chinese food, and we all miss it very much! Of course, this was not the only reason why I’ve come back, but definitely one of them. I’ve also been tremendously missing my family, I wanted to be closer from them. Not to mention that from a more professional point of view, China is now the place to be. Our economy is very dynamic, it offers plenty of opportunities, while it is getting tougher in the West, especially for foreigners.  You’ve worked at Daimler, one of the biggest corporations in the world; what kind of company's culture were you looking for in China? Si Shen: I’ve got a few offers before joining altima°. One of these came from the Chinese headquarter of a famous IT company located in Beijing. Naturally, I hesitated. Just like most people, I felt attracted by a company with such prestigious name: a huge group, known for being a world technology leader. However, I believe the reality in these companies is usually a bit less fun: they’re often very bureaucratic and political, working with pyramid organizational structures. I was not ready for that, not yet. I wanted to be part of a company that puts the employee’s wellness at the heart of its concerns, a company where you keep on improving your skills, where you can freely express yourself without being afraid of the potential consequences on your career, where you’re simply happy to go every morning, and where you’re not just considered as a productive machine. It was also very important for me to be in an environment where I can easily find the right balance between my professional life and my personal one.  Besides, I wanted to be in young and energetic team, able to come up with all sorts of innovative ideas and to make these happen. What was your impression when you first discovered the team, at altima° Beijing? Si Shen: Very young and talented! In a young team like ours, you’re not afraid of failing, we learn from our mistakes, and progress together. There’s a higher level of tolerance, which enables everyone to grow faster, to push boundaries, to be more creative, and in the end, to be better.  And as a result, colleagues here become friends, making our work atmosphere a lot warmer and enjoyable.  What is your position and exact role here at altima° Beijing? Si Shen: I work as a project executive, leading digital projects, including websites, and social media campaigns, from conception to launch. I take part in defining digital strategies as well, analyzing with the team our clients’ goals and specificities to ensure they succeed in this very competitive and unique Chinese market. Currently, I’m supporting The Juilliard School, helping their brand develop their awareness on social media channels. These missions are all great opportunities for me to get new skills in different fields considering that we provide a various set of expertise, from website creation and localization, to Search Engine Marketing (SEO & SEA), web analytics, social media, and marketplaces management. Besides this, you’ve been quickly gaining responsibilities within the group, you are now part of the ministry of happiness and in charge of organizing team building activities here. What do you do exactly? Si Shen: We’ve made « made with happiness » our slogan at altima°, and therefore put together a team (anyone could join) that is dedicated to improving our team-mates life at the office, and the connection between our agencies (in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong-Kong very soon). We’ve been discussing many great ideas, and are currently looking into setting a live stream system for all our teams to be visually in contact across China. We also have a specific team that works on organizing team-building activities. We propose fun and regular events to everyone (all of which are submitted to a vote), so that we can strengthen our team spirit and spend more happy moments together.  I thought these two concepts were great, so when I heard that I could be part of it, I decided to join! It’s been about 4 months that you are at altima° now, would you recommend anyone to work here? Si Shen: Yes, for sure! As a matter of fact, I already did. Besides, all my friends know that I am very happy working at altima°! And although our team probably speaks a bit too much French sometimes (here in Beijing), this really is a place where I’m pleased to be.
In order to bring an ever-improving end-user experience and a conversion rate increase to our clients, we have started, at altima°, rolling up Redis caching services to our customers. In this article, we’ll be covering our deployment of Redis services to one of our high traffic clients, whose website has been tuned by our team with a set of blazing fast enhancements. These optimizations targ
In order to bring an ever-improving end-user experience and a conversion rate increase to our clients, we have started, at altima°, rolling up Redis caching services to our customers. In this article, we’ll be covering our deployment of Redis services to one of our high traffic clients, whose website has been tuned by our team with a set of blazing fast enhancements. These optimizations target an enhancement in SEO rankings and user experience through faster response time, leading to higher conversion ratios. Redis: Targeted caching Navigation menu As a website grows in features and capabilities, so does its complexity. And with complexity comes the need for optimizations. In today’s showcase, issues arose after we implemented a fully dynamic navigation menu, to be shown on every page of the website. This feature brings a lot of value but has a real performance cost. Our developer tools are always watching performance metrics When our teams noticed this new cost, we ran some benchmark and reduced the code footprint to the maximum. When that did not prove sufficient, we turned to another solution. A new hope: Redis cache! That solution was to implement a cache feature. Caching is a well known and effective way to further optimize a complex system, which cannot be trimmed down anymore. Cache strategies At altima°, we offer different caching solutions, backed by many different technologies. The most common strategies include using nginx/varnish HTML caching and redis template/database caching. All of them take responsibility of different parts of the webpage’s lifecycle. Typical caching strategies in the webpage lifecycle The best results usually come from a combination of these strategies. In our use case, the complexity is more precisely situated in one unique place, which will allow us to make a surgical focus on the template layer. Results In the end, we get the best of both worlds: high value-added features without any performance costs. Some number crunching has allowed us to measure the extend of the positive impact, as seen below. Numbers On a cache hit, the number of queries for the menu is down to the initial value, a perfect 0! The time for page generation has also greatly improved, as our benchmark shows. Benchmarking allows us be sure our improvements worked and pat ourselves on the back Depending on the pages and the traffic load, we register an improvement between grossly 40 to 60%. Our main benchmark on the home registered a 58% improvement, shown in the previous image. What’s next? We now have a working caching system and a proof of its efficiency. It is an easily implementable tool that has the potential to cache from 50% to 90% of the displayed data being cache-able. We strive and are proud to bring all such improvements to serve the best experience to the end customer and increase conversion rates for our clients.  
Every November 11th, the Chinese giant slashes prices on its online B2C and C2C platforms: respectively Tmall and Taobao. This year, the Chinese have spent 120.7 billion yuan (US$17.79 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV), exceeding 2015’s record by about 32 percent, and representating more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
Alibaba’s 11.11 is by far the biggest online shopping day of the year in the world. Every November 11th, the Chinese giant slashes prices on its online B2C and C2C platforms: respectively Tmall and Taobao. This year, the Chinese have spent 120.7 billion yuan (US$17.79 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV), exceeding 2015’s record by about 32 percent, and representating more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.   1) From “singles day” to “shopping day” Double 11 used to be considered by Chinese students as the singles day. As everything in China represents an opportunity to do business, Alibaba had the brilliant idea, back in 2009, to turn 11.11 into an excuse to go shopping. From that moment on, the company's sales have skyrocketed. 2) All lights on! Alibaba Global Shopping Festival Gala Celebration is among the biggest retail ecommerce events in the world, generating interest and catching the eye of the most popular media platforms. This large-scale event is happening during double 11’s kickoff day with a focus on entertainment and interactive engagement. Alibaba introduced a wide range of multimedia activities, including a virtual reality shopping experience and a fashion show (see below). The company also leveraged famous Key Opinion Leaders (KOL): sport stars, musicians and actors such as Kobe Bryant, David Beckham, OneRepublic or Scarlett Johansson to help merchants increase their brands and products awareness. Alibaba ensured that their shopping festival show was broadcast across all existing devices (e.g. TV, computer, tablet and mobile phone) to target the largest possible audience. There was even a shopping entertainment show where they live streamed a fashion show during which viewers could preorder clothes on the website as models walked down the runway. According to the director of the gala, 35 million people tuned in for this! 3) One of the biggest multi-brands platforms in the world Alibaba offers one of the widest choice with more than 11 000 international brands from more than 200 countries. This includes brands such as Maserati, Remowa, Guerlain and Burberry who are all hoping to take a slice out of the Chinese consumer market. During 11.11, 37% of the sales were from international brands or vendors. Japan, US and South Korea are leading the ranking with Uniqlo, Apple, Nike, Siemens. (Source: Alizila) 4) The unique day for global sales in China Unlike in the West, China does not restrict periods of sales, brands are free to define their own, and people to track these periods. Double 11 became the first global sales event to take place in the lands of the Middle Kingdom. That is the only moment where everyone can expect his/her favorite brand to offer promotions. 5) Digital pioneer During the festival, Alibaba had plans to reinvent the way consumers buy goods. For example, the launch of the first virtual reality shopping experience! With a cardboard VR headset and a smartphone, shoppers could browse eight digital international stores to assess goods before buying them. And in just a few seconds, anyone could visit Macy’s New York famous department store from their home. Alibaba has leveraged other technical innovations to fight against counterfeit items sold on its marketplaces, such as the IP Joint-force Sytem: an online system aiming at controlling the sales of fake products. Here, the commerce firms and brands will work together to report suspicious activities through an online portal to track and remove counterfeit products. What shall we conclude? The “singles day” festival clearly gives us an insight about how tomorrow’s retail might look. For both buyers and sellers, 11.11 has become a key date on the Chinese calendar. More specifically for brands, it’s a great way to take advantage of consumer’s attention to transform 11.11 into a living laboratory for retail and marketing innovations, with new products and new ways to engage with customers, online and offline.

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