The market for selling to Amazon Sellers

This post is for any business that is selling TO Chinese Amazon sellers. 

We’ve helped Western businesses sell many millions of dollars of services, software and digital products to Chinese businesses that sell online on Amazon.

How big is this market?

Approximately 60% of Amazon sellers are based in China (source). That’s right! There are more Amazon sellers in China than there are in the rest of the world combined. I can’t find the sales data, but about 60% of a $400 billion/year pie is quite the slice (source).

The market is significant enough that any business that sells to Amazon sellers must have a strategy for the Chinese market.

What does the market need?

These businesses tend to be extremely competitive. They work hard, innovate quickly and use whatever tools are available.

Now, my company not only does marketing campaigns to reach these sellers, but we do the customer support too, so we have had conversations with literally thousands of Chinese Amazon sellers. Here’s how we would describe them:

  1. They speak English, but prefer Chinese. Their business is selling to consumers outside of China, so they need to have some English abilities. This ability tends to be hit-and-miss across staff in their companies. But, they prefer Chinese, and it’s a huge market so your competitors are likely to provide marketing, help and support materials in Chinese. You’ll need to match that.
  2. They move fast, and expect fast service too. “Fill out the form and we’ll get back to you.” Do you have something like that written on your website? You might as well be asking them to send a carrier pigeon.
    If they are interested and on your website, you should treat that like they are sitting in the couch of your office waiting room. Say “hi”, ask what they’re there for and have somebody come out and serve them soon. This is what they expect. They’ll use the quality and speed of customer service to evaluate whether or not it’s worth working with you.
  3. They care about money, money, money. They want to do what’s necessary to improve results right away. Most of them (not all) are not really thinking about building brand equity year-over-year…at least, not compared to famous Western brands. However, Chinese companies are now emphasizing brand development more than they were five years ago.
    They want to make money soon, and that means taking steps to remove obstacles that make it impossible to earn money, as well as ramping up revenue. Some examples: 

    • Improving their customer reviews (in the legit way or otherwise).
    • Improving logistics efficiency.
    • Getting better at market research (more data, more accurate data, data that’s easier to use or quicker to obtain).
    • Improving conversions.
    • Increasing traffic efficiently.
    • Avoiding getting banned.
    • Running marketing campaigns outside of Amazon. E.g.: Twitter, standalone website, Facebook, etc.
  4. Friendly International trade. Well, this isn’t something you or I can control, but anybody involved in International business loves to see clarity on government regulations and an openness to cross-border trade. In the current environment, these things are not certain.

You might be thinking “what is it that they really want? They really need high-quality support, rapid customer service and a cheap price?” The answer is “yes! They really expect all that.”

When expanding into China it might help to imagine that you are moving several years into the future. Imagine a future where things move faster, competition is tougher and customers are more demanding. That’s China!

The movie Her was filmed in a place that looks enough like a near-future Los Angeles - ShanghaiThe movie Her was filmed in a place that looks enough like a near-future Los Angeles – Shanghai (source). 

Is your product a fit for the Chinese market?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you already have a Chinese customer? If you’re doing no Chinese marketing, sales or customer support but have picked up one or more Chinese customers regardless, that’s a great sign.
  2. Can your product be done cheaper and better in China? If, for example, you are selling Amazon PPC ad management, that might be a tough sell, because they can do that in-house (or at least think they can). However, you might pivot to something else, such as a training course on how they can improve their English PPC ad creative writing. External courses are popular with Chinese Amazon sellers (source).
  3. Are you willing to make things convenient for Chinese buyers? I’ll explain how in the next section.
  4. Are you willing to speak Chinese? No, not you personally! But, can you provide your website’s key landing pages in Chinese? How about customer support? While highly-motivated buyers will navigate through an English-only marketing/sales funnel, you’ll get 10X more buyers by providing all the key materials/support in Chinese.

Remember that the niche market of Chinese companies that sell on Amazon is not the same as the whole Chinese market. They do have some ability to speak English, use foreign payment methods and generally get along with foreign businesses. 

You wouldn’t be able to take any shortcuts if, for example, you were operating a restaurant catering to the general public in China. Believe me, I have promoted everything from Papa John’s pizza to real estate to plane tickets. Cross-border Chinese businesses are easier for foreign businesses to satisfy. Just remember, you cannot cut corners on

1) having a good product,

2) offering fast, high-quality customer support and,

3) Chinese-language marketing assets on the upper funnel.

How to Reach Chinese Amazon Sellers

To sell your products/services to Chinese Amazon sellers, you’ll need to create a marketing strategy that effectively overcomes language and cultural barriers.

Having been in this field for over ten years, we can offer a few insights.

Create a clear value proposition. Even if it’s more of a guess at first, list the unique selling points and how they benefit Chinese Amazon sellers. We like to use a three-page marketing plan document for this kind of thing. Three pages is enough that we don’t get bogged down in paperwork. Just write down what you know, and whatever relevant data you can obtain, then move on, take action. The plan should be updated regularly as data flows in from real potential customers.

Create a Chinese version of your website. ‘Transcreate’ your website into Simplified Mandarin Chinese. This will make it easier for Chinese Amazon sellers to learn about your services. Transcreation is part translation, part creation. 

For instance, I saw a website with the prominent headline: “Grow your brand on Amazon”. Instead of just translating that, perhaps we should use some of the insights about Chinese Amazon sellers above, right? We could change it to “Grow your sales on Amazon”. That’s just a quick example. For key pages, we try to get inside the minds of the exact target customers and write specifically for them. But then for other supporting pages, translation is often good enough.

Use Baidu search ads. Baidu’s search ads work a lot like Google’s. It’s possible to show your ads to people that are searching for what you’re selling or related problems of theirs. This is one of the most common channels we use.

Use WeChat. By creating a WeChat official account, you can repeatedly share new information with your target audience. The posts you share there will show up right in the messages area of your followers, so clickthrough rates are pretty good. Think of it as being a bit like an email newsletter, but with the added benefit of being more shareable too.

Grow your website’s SEO over time. It’s always beneficial to pick up more unpaid organic traffic directly to your website. So, make sure your website is optimized for Baidu and has plenty of useful Chinese content on it. However, Baidu isn’t very nice to new, small websites. If you want to start cracking this market within months, SEO will be too slow, which brings us to the next step.

Post on forums and Q&A platforms. By posting on big platforms like Zhihu as well as niche forums you can start picking up traffic much more quickly than you can on your website.

The way we work is to create the content for WeChat, the website and other sites all at once, all in one efficient process. It’s better to kill three birds with one stone.

Collaborate with influencers. Influencer marketing is very popular in China. By partnering with Chinese influencers, you can gain exposure quickly. Better yet, you can gain some trust. I understand the influencer part from two angles. We’ve helped partners run influencer campaigns in China, and I’m also a fledgling influencer myself. My personal brand “泰特能说” shares tips for intercultural communication/tools/marketing/business to 20K+ followers.

Attend networking events. Feeling bold? Travel to China, participate in relevant trade shows, conferences, or networking events in-person. If you’re on a tight launch budget, this might be out of the question. But it would also be so much fun, wouldn’t it? offers numerous business assistants in China to aid your navigation.

Offer localized customer support. Provide customer support in Chinese. This could be done with your in-house staff or with ours. The first-contact, low-level customer support should be real-time during Chinese business hours. However, if you have a high-ticket item with a long sales process, it is possible to use English-speaking salespeople. Your customer just needs to be motivated enough to go through that.

Reach out proactively. This is the only item in the list that I have NOT tried yet. I’ve obtained databases of Chinese Amazon sellers, and I’d like to try reaching out to them via WeChat and phone. Once I try this out, you can be sure I’ll create an article or video about it.

探索,创新,发现. That’s the top core value in our company. It means “explore, create, discover.” In other words, you need to explore new ideas, implement them then carefully analyze the results, then repeat. We do this every two week sprint for every project we work on, and it lets us get better faster. If you’re not familiar with this way of working, look up “scrum” and “lean” methodologies.

A Closing Thought

I know how to attract Chinese Amazon sellers and help them convert. But I don’t know everything about how your specific business will fare with them.

One thing I’m curious about is why I don’t hear from more companies that provide services to Amazon sellers. I’d be glad to hear about your experiences so far, including the opportunities you sense as well as the obstacles you face.

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