With over 1.5 billion people and 40% of the World's ecommerce volume, it's no surprise so many businesses are turning to China to expand their sales worldwide.
But with some many businesses interested in this booming market, it can be hard to successfully differenciate yourself from the competition and to choose the right path to the chinese market. Chinese consumers are bombarded by both local and foreign businesesses that want them. But a quick look at any demographic report will tell you how much your bottom line would benefit from a foray into China.
China is a tough market to penetrate. With so many local trade restrictions for foreign companies trying to reach the chinese consumers, making a first sale can be a challenging adventure.
In this Getting to Global guide, we will guide you through the process of reaching your chinese consumer, succesfully making sales on ecommerce channels, and getting your products from your shop to your consumer.
China has the world’s largest online population with more than 600 million internet users. The penetration rate however is only about 47 percent, leaving significant room for growth. The number of online shoppers has grown rapidly from 74 million in 2008, to more than 460 million in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 30 percent.
China’s emerging middle class has money to spend. Urban disposable income levels have increased since 2008 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 percent, from US $2,505 in 2008 to US $4,698 in 2014.
Much of the wealth is concentrated along coastal provinces and in Tier 1 cities. E-commerce is providing access to inner provinces and lower tier cities which have been underserved by traditional brick and mortar retail channels. Online shoppers in Tier 1 cities spend the most money on ecommerce, however, online shoppers in lower Tier cities (i.e. Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities) spend a higher percentage of their disposable income shopping online. The charts below illustrates this.
In gender terms, 54 percent of online shoppers are male, while 46 percent are female. Male shoppers usually purchase electronic products such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones. Female shoppers tend to purchase apparel, cosmetics, home décor, maternity and baby products.
The majority of online shoppers are between the ages of 20 and 39 years old with incomes between RMB 1,000 to RMB 5,000 per month. The top 10 product categories online include clothing, bags, cosmetics and groceries. 
Apparel and consumer electronics are the most popular product categories sold online accounting for nearly 50 percent of all sales. The chart below illustrates the key product categories for online sales. China’s ecommerce market is extremely vibrant and can potentially provide companies with an affordable way to access China’s consumers. It is still important however, to understand the intricacies and unique dynamics of the market and the consumers shopping online. 
Chinese New Year The turn of the Chinese calendar, which falls in January or February, is arguably the biggest holiday of the year in China. For Westerners, the Chinese New Year is on par with Christmas in its calendar importance and the proliferation of sales and commerce. Hundreds of thousands of factories and businesses in China close for up to two weeks to give employees enough time to travel home to rural areas. With the shutdown and lack of employees comes congested shipping and delayed packages, so advanced sales are key. 
Singles Day Celebrated on November 11 (11/11), Singles Day was originally a tongue-in-cheek holiday invented by several college students in the ’90s as a day for young, single men to celebrate their bachelorhood. It wasn’t until Alibaba came along in 2009 and embraced it that Singles Day blew up to become an ecommerce phenomenon. In just six years, it has exploded into the largest shopping day in the world. Single, married, old, young — everyone in China shops on Singles Day. 
Double 12 Alibaba was also behind this brand new holiday, which exists to encourage retailers to improve the quality of products and services offered online. Singles Day has proven to be so successful that Double 12 has emerged as a follow-up. Double 12, celebrated on December 12 (12/12) is focused on small- and mid-size retailers. 
Children's Day Children’s Day is an international holiday celebrated by different nations on different days throughout the year. In China, it’s recognized on June 1 and is a good opportunity for selling toys and apparel. 
The Autumn Moon Festival In China, a full moon is believed to be a symbol of peace, prosperity and family reunion. The Autumn Moon Festival is one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture. This annual festival, usually falling in mid-September, is a thousand-year-old celebration where families gather to partake in festivities dedicated to admiration of the moon. Small gift items tend to sell well during the festivities. 
Baidu is the leading search engine in China, while most web portals also provide search opportunities like Soso.com. Bing China has also entered the Chinese market. Bing.cn also operates Yahoo's China search functions. As of 2015, Google has limited to no presence in China. Before 2014, Googlers in China were linked to Google Hong Kong from its google.cn page because of an issue with hackers reportedly based in Mainland China. As of June 4, 2014, Google became officially blocked without the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN), an effect still in place to date.
Top ten most popular search sites in China
(As of September 17, 2013 [% share in searches])