Designing For Mobile Commerce in China

chinese-mobile-commerceChinese online retail spend is poised to grow 20% per year until 2019, when it is expected to hit $1 Trillion. But the real explosion is in mobile commerce, expected to grow 44% per year.

Any business that wants to target the online and mobile commerce market in China should understand the cultural differences and design conventions that affect mobile commerce in APAC.

An excellent resource and insight into the cultural and social factors that influence mobile UX in Asia is Chui Chui Tan’s Your Mobile Experience is Not Theirs.

Though the presentation is more than 1 year old, it contains principles that still apply to Chinese user experience:

  • Culture and language matter. If you are going to design a localized experience, get to know how the localized language works.
  • Part of localized context is network infrastructure. This changes frequently, but have a general idea of the devices and mobile networks in each market.
  • Americans pay more attention to detail, and Asians to context. Relevant content matters.
  • Asians think of themselves as deeply connected to others, vs the individualistic American. Consider featuring reviews and other social proof more prominently. Consider IM apps for customer service.

Chinese UX mythbusters

Despite these differences in context, overall Chinese online shoppers want the same experiences as the West. They are not motivated by their ancient culture, are not price sensitive, and don’t prefer busy, blinking, arcade-like landing pages (similar to how Western web pages don’t resemble the ISP portals of the late 90’s).

Contextual merchandising

Chinese B2C customers perceive Western brands as superior to made-in-China, so featuring brand logos and merchandising Western products on a mobile home page and top-of-category may be more important to the Asian market than rest-of-the-world.

For may, proof of authenticity is more important than product information and education. Consider badges on thumbnails and product pages and other ways to build trust, and copy that reinforces this.

Designers and merchandisers should consider how this information can best be displayed prominently on smartphones in both portrait and landscape mode.

Designing commerce experiences for the mobile, Chinese consumer requires savvy about cultural factors, design trends, devices and consumer FUD.

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