Featured Region

Understanding DTC Opportunities in China’s Dynamic eCommerce Ecosystem

GELF’s Featured Region takes a look at post-pandemic China and offers two perspectives about the changing ecommerce environment in China.

We start with the Douying Workshop from GELF NYC ’22 which featured Peter McMath from WPIC – check out the video replay here and please subscribe to The GELF YouTube Channel!


GELF would also like to thank Samarkand Global for sharing their new white paper – Understanding China’s Decentralised eCommerce Landscape. The white paper features China’s consumers and details how the eCommerce environment have changed incredibly quickly in the last two years.

The thought leadership argues that if brands take a smart approach to selling in China that there are still amazing opportunities on channels like Douyin and WeChat in spite of the global economic uncertainties. Leveraging the established audiences of specialist social commerce channels can be the perfect launchpad to a sustainable, profitable business for consumer brands in China. Download the white paper here

Summary: China’s cross-border eCommerce (CBEC) ecosystem has long been dominated by major B2C platforms – Alibaba’s Tmall Global and the Tencent-backed JD Worldwide. Challengers have come and gone – examples include Kaola, ultimately acquired by Alibaba from Netease in 2019 and now reportedly down to just 20 staff, or smaller players like Secoo whose rise and fall has become well discussed after a promising start and major IPO.

The barriers to launch for international brands can remain stubbornly high – especially around marketing investment which can deliver low ROI for new brands to market. Core challenges include the high cost of customer acquisition and the often long time to profitability after launch.  

Leading platforms have faced a recent typhoon of regulatory action – with Alibaba fined $2.75bn for monopolistic behaviour in 2021, and more recently tax-avoidance crackdowns on leading livestream host superstars including Viya and Cherry. External macro factors – like Covid-lockdown induced reductions in consumer confidence, weaker growth in China’s economy, and a potential global downturn reducing demand for Chinese exports even further, have only served to intensify the challenges and competition.

Where can brands look for opportunities and growth in 2022 and beyond? In the Understanding China’s Decentralised eCommerce Landscape white paper Samarkand Global examines opportunities and gives further context and information on the China market. 

Check it out everyone! And don’t forget to register here for complimentary retailer-only VIP passes to GELF LA 2023 on Wednesday September 22nd, 2023 in West Hollywood!

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