Simtech Development

Localization: How to Speak the Same Language with Your Customers? China

Elena Rychkova

From our previous post you are already familiar that localization is not just about translating, not even about a grammatically perfect text covering all the writing conventions and dialects. Knowledge of the language is the key, however, is not the only thing you should be aware of before walking into a terra incognita. Culture and social life, legal norms, and financial issues – these are the fundamental stones to build a strong business in a specific locality.

China has been always reported as a challenging and very prospective market at the same time. Many world marketplace giants tried and didn’t raise money in the Mainland. What went wrong?

The world knew huge losses with Home Depot and McDonald’s who tried to transfer their Western models to China. What did they miss out and what to focus on primarily? Let’s case-study.

Factors to consider before localizing

Target locale specifics

Home Depot relied their marketing campaign on a logo: Do It Yourself. In the Eastern countries, doing something by yourself means you are poor and cannot afford to hire others to do it for you. It is not prestigious to rely on yourself only.

McDonald’s didn’t take into account that their on-the-go strategy with serving clients in cars won’t go for China. Chinese people are collectivist, they are accustomed to meet together and would prefer to drop in a cafe to take their meals.  

What we can learn from this? Eastern culture is far from the individualistic values of the West. Keep this thesis in mind while elaborating your marketing strategy and you will succeed!

Website Look and Feel:

Use color symbolism which is appropriate for the Chinese. Use the red, a traditional bridal color symbolizing good luck, to highlight important text and accentuate prominent images. Other good colors are gold (wealth, completeness), yellow (nourishing, supporting, warm, good faith), and green (growth, balance, calmness, harmony). As in the United States, green is often the color used by banks.

Use more bright colors and don’t be afraid of large content. The traditional Chinese online shops are marked up with text, images, and other triggers. To get the general idea of a China-inspired theme you can take a look at our Asia Theme Front Pack.

Social Life:

Try to include more local social nets to expand your brand locally. Airbnb got success and grow their client base by 700% in 2015 in China thanks to allowing their users logging in via WeChat and Weibo accounts, the most popular social media platforms. This shows that the limits of localization are endless and it goes far beyond basic language translation.

When it comes to social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), don’t underestimate the broad Chinese censorship. Optimize your website mostly for Baidu and and don’t forget about differences in ranking systems. Baidu still considers meta keywords in its ranking system.

Take into consideration these local social nets: Qzone (most widespread), Renren (often compared to Facebook), (an exclusive network of affluent clients who must be invited by other members to join), Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter), Tencent Weibo, WeChat (sort of What’s App); Youku Tudou (YouTube analog), iQiyi, and PPS for video content sharing.

Currency and payment


The renminbi is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. The yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generally and denoted as CNY (Chinese yuan).


According to Statista, the number of internet users in China is 731.25m and 474.5m of them use online payment. The penetration rate of online payment in China amounts to 64.9%. According to iResearch, the three platforms leading in the online payment sector in China are Alipay, UnionPay, and TenPay. Their market shares in China reached 28%, 27%, and 12%, respectively. The CS-Cart platform allows connecting Alipay method with its Stripe Payment Gateway add-on.

Other popular payment methods in addition to the top three which are widespread in China VISA, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club Card, PPS, China, 99Bill, and PayPal, are all included in AsiaPay gateway and available for CS-Cart websites with AsiaPay add-on.

Legal requirements

Legal Norms:

China’s comprehensive eCommerce law, passed in August 2018, took effect on January 1, 2019. The main purpose of that law is to improve the image of a country selling counterfeit and copycat merchandise through their eCommerce platforms. It also addresses other important aspects of eCommerce, including false advertising, consumer protection, data protection, and cybersecurity.

The adopted law regulates the registration and licensing of eCommerce operators, taxation, electronic payment, and eCommerce dispute resolution, and intellectual property protection.

The new law touches three types of operators: 1) eCommerce platform operators like Taobao, 2) third-party merchants who sell goods and services on the eCommerce platform of others, and 3) online vendors operating their own websites or which do business via other network channels, such as social media sites.

It means that merchants who sell goods through the Moments feed of Tencent Holdings’ WeChat social messaging service or ByteDance video-sharing app Tik Tok aka Douyin fall under the new law. These sellers will now need to file their business registration and pay the relevant taxes.

A platform operator becomes liable if it is aware of violated intellectual property rights The law states that in serious cases of intellectual property infringement, operators can be deprived up to USD 290,780.

Platform operators are also prohibited from imposing unreasonable restrictions and must keep records on the transaction and provided products and services.

Key players on the market:

  • Alibaba Group Holding including its Chinese retail platforms: Taobao, AliExpress, Lazada, and Tmall;
  • Kaola that is part of the NetEase Group.

The marketplace model is not something new appeared yesterday. The world key players like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba set up the rules and best practices for a multi-seller store. And CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Plus platform continues adopting the rules of the game providing a framework which can be seamlessly customized to naturally fit such a specific market as the Chinese one.


The Chinese marketplace is very potential but is also full of pitfalls. While planning entering China, get consultancy with locals, especially concerning the culture, language and laws. And the technical component of your eCommerce website is better to entrust to eCommerce developers experienced in customizing online shops for the needs and environment of a particular market.

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