Digital Magazine for B2B CE Retail Products & Strategy News


Editorial Team

CE China Vendor Focus: Cuori

By Editorial TeamFebruary 27, 2021

Tell our readers about your products. Are there any special customized products for the Chinese market and for overseas markets? Are there any new or innovative products developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, we developed some new products in 2020. New product developments included: air fryers, dryers and sterilizers, sterilizing steamers, cordless products, DC tower fans, and plate heaters…. There are several new, innovative products with sterilization features including: sterilizing boxes, steamers, cooling fans and warming machines.

Did you make any changes relating to your sales channels in China in 2020 due to the  COVID-19 pandemic?

The sales channels in China changed into an Internet-based economy, with 70 percent from social media platforms like Tik Tok and Taobao livestream.

What are prospects for the market and for sales development in 2021?

The forecast for 2021 is positive, with orders for kitchen and floor care products having been placed for the second half of 2021. Focus for the domestic market will continue to remain on web market sales. Demand and growth for new products in the domestic market remain strong.

Why is CE China, taking place in September in Guangzhou, an important trade show for you?

CE China, taking place in September in Guangzhou, is earlier than the Autumn Canton Fair, and it will give us a good picture and grasp of market trends and industry development trends in advance.

CE China Vendor Focus: Galanz

By Editorial TeamFebruary 27, 2021

Tell our readers about your products. Are there any special customized products for the Chinese market and for overseas markets? Are there any new or innovative products developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Galanz has always been committed to innovation and R&D. Apart from our key products such as microwave ovens, kitchen appliances, refrigerators and washing machines, we have increased our R&D investment into health-care home appliances. Galanz has launched the Model GZ20 Air Disinfector and with the introduction, presents the Galanz solution for healthy living to the global market. Health has always been a common pursuit of humankind, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic era. According to a data report issued by the Fudan Fuda Testing Center, a certification authority in China, Model GZ20 can kill up to 99.99 percent of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in 30 minutes, under certain laboratory conditions.

Did you make any changes relating to your sales channels in China in 2020 due to the  COVID-19 pandemic?

In the first half of 2020, Galanz expanded online sales and retail channels though live streaming, its e-commerce platform and social media marketing, to stay in closer communication with our consumers. With the resumption of work, Galanz has gained considerable YoY growth in production and sales, and has kept strong sales momentum through 2020.

What are prospects for the market and for sales development in 2021?

As the COVID-19 pandemic comes further under control in 2021, domestic and overseas market demand will gradually recover. Galanz is cautiously optimistic regarding the market and sales, and will launch more smart home, kitchen and health-care appliances products. We expect that the sales of all home appliances categories will gain in growth in 2021.

Why is CE China, taking place in September in Guangzhou, an important trade show for you?

CE China is hosted by IFA, and we believe that because of the expertise of IFA, CE China will be a perfect and important platform to boost our corporate image and new products, to promote our brand and product awareness, and to bring more customer resources to Galanz. Galanz previously participated as an exhibitor at CE China in both 2018 and 2019, and we hope we can deepen our cooperation in the near future.

What China’s Technology Buyers Crave

By Editorial TeamFebruary 24, 2021

Xiang Zhi, team leader of the annual CE China show – a global IFA event in Guangzhou, was born in China. Following his studies in Germany, he began his career in the German exhibition industry. After years of international exhibition experience, in 2018, he joined the IFA team of Messe Berlin GmbH. Here, he offers a view of the many opportunities inherent in the Chinese consumer marketplace to Dealerscope’s editor in chief, Nancy Klosek.

(Above) Front row, pictured from right to left, walking the floor during the VIP tour at CE China 2019’s opening ceremony: CE China Team Leader Xiang Zhi; Executive Vice President – Messe Berlin Group and IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker; and Deputy Secretary-General of the Guangzhou Municipal Government Yuyue Gao.

Klosek: Please give our readers an idea of the differences in the style of CE/appliance retailing in China versus the style of retailing in the U.S. What ways of selling these products to consumers stand out in China as uniquely appealing for the Chinese consumer?

Xiang Zhi: Online shopping via mobile devices is getting more common in China. Almost everyone in China has a mobile phone shopping app and uses it for purchasing daily necessities. Customers still view the products in the store, but then go home and place an order online, benefiting from discounts.
Livestreaming sales are very popular in China, similar to TV sales in the U.S. Celebrities and professional sellers will introduce products to the audience during live broadcasts. The audience can place orders directly on their mobile phones.

Klosek: November 11 – or 11/11, which is Singles Day in China, is similar to the U.S.’s Black Friday, but on a much larger scale. Please describe for our readers how the dynamics of Singles Day play out in terms of the Chinese retail market.

Xiang Zhi: Double Eleven – the Singles Day Festival on November 11, is a global shopping event initiated by Alibaba and adopted by other e-commerce platforms and retailers in China. Another major annual shopping festival in China is 618, taking place on June 18. Consumers can expect the largest discounts of the year during Double Eleven, while businesses expect a significant portion of annual revenues from this shopping festival sale.

Klosek: Regarding the CE and appliances retail consumer in China – what buying behaviors did you see as most prominent before the pandemic – and how have those behaviors been impacted, or changed, during the pandemic?

Xiang Zhi: Due to the rapid development of Internet access, mobile payment and logistical convenience, online sales of CE and home appliances had gradually become an important channel in China. The proportion of online sales in the overall retail sales of the home appliances market reached approx. 40 percent in 2020. In the same year, the pandemic was the accelerator of the online shopping channel and influenced changes in some consumers’ behavior.
Firstly, online shopping is not limited to young people anymore; some buyers who were not interested previously in e-commerce had to participate in online shopping under the pressures of the pandemic. The ongoing pandemic has continued to nurture and reinforce consumers’ online shopping habits. Although most parts of China are back to normal life, online shopping habits have continued. And after the outbreak, manufacturers, retailers and consumers are more actively embracing online channels. In the past, some consumers preferred to touch and experience home appliances in the physical store before purchasing; now, e-commerce platforms actively utilize new technologies to enhance the online shopping experience, such as 3D animations and AI presentations which provide consumers with a similar “high-touch” experience. Thus, offline shopping still plays an important part in people’s lives, but is not a must anymore.
Secondly, the pandemic has increased people’s health awareness. Consumers more and more value the multi-functionality of home appliances, such as antiseptic and disinfection features in air-conditioners.
Thirdly, as the pandemic has triggered economic recession and rises in unemployment in many countries, people have tended to save money instead of spending it. In China retail sales recovered from the pandemic in the second half of 2020 and retail sales value increased by 4.6 percent in December.

Klosek: What is it about Chinese-manufactured CE and appliances and brands that have made these products so significant and impactful lately in the U.S. market – and to the American consumer?

Xiang Zhi: In modern society, where science and technology are evolving rapidly, continuous innovations are the epitome of brands’ global competitiveness. Across the entire industry, all-around innovation has become a general trend for the development of global brands, which increasingly pursue the notion of innovation throughout the whole life cycle of a product. With innovative and smart manufacturing, Chinese brands keep on rolling out many new, technologically advanced products to break the monopoly of their overseas counterparts.
Nowadays, the image of Chinese CE products and home appliances has evolved to high value for the price (great quality, high technology and at same time very affordable). Since technology development is getting faster and faster, consumers are willing to buy affordable products with high quality at the same time the newest technologies are introduced and will upgrade their products more frequently. Chinese products are getting more preferred and recognized. Chinese brands can fully leverage the opportunity to go global and align themselves with the advanced technologies and products their global rivals have to offer.

Klosek: What are some of the most exciting consumer retail purchasing trends (relating to CE and appliances) that are currently unique to China – and when could these trends reach the U.S.?

Xiang Zhi: Retailer Suning took over the Carrefour chain store in order to enlarge its offline store coverage. At the same time, Suning is able to integrate fresh products and non-electrical daily necessities to its portfolio.
Social e-commerce and live commerce are unique in consumer retail in China. In the first half of 2020, more than one million episodes of livestreaming related to home appliances were broadcast on the Internet, and more than 100 billion RMB in transaction value was generated.
Besides the influencers and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), a lot of large companies’ leaders and government officers are also actively engaged in live commerce to boost sales. For example, a livestream on Monday, June 1, 2020, hosted by the chairwoman and president of home appliances maker Gree Electric Appliances, Dong Mingzhu, generated total sales reaching 6.54 billion yuan ($918 million).

Klosek: Why is CE China an important showcase to spotlight Chinese CE and appliances for the world market?

Xiang Zhi: CE China – a global IFA event – offers companies exhibition opportunities to showcase their innovations and products to the Chinese consumers right after the IFA exhibition in Berlin. At the same time, the show is an outstanding platform for brands which are looking for access to the Chinese market.
Following the IFA concept, CE China is based on a comprehensive partnership with the leading retail partners and has evolved into a valuable meeting place for consumer electronics and home appliances in China and Pan-Asia. Further, IFA Retail University is a groundbreaking tool at CE China, providing international brands with maximum attention from major retailers like Suning and Alibaba in China.
CE China received strong support from the Guangzhou government and industrial associations. An official German Pavilion, supported by German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, will combine the best of “Made in Germany” under the roof of CE China.
CE China is accompanied by the extraordinary tech convention CE Summit, which is hosted by one of the most influential global media houses, IDG Asia.

A Chinese Retailing Giant Views Consumer Trends

By Editorial TeamFebruary 24, 2021

Yi Ma, CE China’s product manager responsible for marketing, retail
partnerships and conference programs, explores the dynamics in the ever-evolving Chinese consumer marketplace in this Q&A with Ivan Zou, Director of Category Management for CE and Home Appliances at Alibaba.com

Ivan Zou, Director of Category Management for CE and Home Appliances at Alibaba.com

Yi Ma, Product Manager CE China: How has the global pandemic affected the landscape for the consumer electronics (CE) and home appliances (HA) categories? And what factors do you think will continue to affect CE and appliances retailing in the world, for the near future and for the long-term future?

Ivan Zou, Director of Category Management for CE and Home Appliances, Alibaba.com:
I want to use the following three key words to describe the current global CE and appliances landscape.
The first key word is China: Approximately 90 percent CE products and 70 percent HA products are manufactured in China. At the same time, China is the largest consumer market of CE and HA products. Over the past five years, some Chinese brands have become leaders in the CE and HA industries –¬ brands such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Haier, Gree, Midea, DJI and Hikvision, across the smartphones, drones, security cameras and home appliance product categories.
The second key word is Smart Technology: Due to technology breakthroughs in the semiconductor and Internet of Things (IoT) areas, more than 80 percent of conventional electronics products are being upgraded to smart devices. On the other hand, barriers in certain categories have disappeared. For example, Huawei has launched laptop products – a category where HP and Dell prevailed. Apple has launched Airpods, moving into a category where Sony and JBL have prevailed.
The third key word is E-commerce – especially cross-border e-commerce: The share of e-commerce sales for CE products has already surpassed 50 percent in both China and North America. For Alibaba.com, as a leading cross-border B2B e-commerce platform, sales in 2020 increased by more than 100 percent, compared with sales in 2019.

Yi Ma: What factors do you think will continue to affect CE and appliance retailing in the world, for the near future and for the long-term future?

Ivan Zou: The pandemic has caused a significant impact on the CE and HA industries, such as the shortage of electronic parts and components materials, the increase in cost for CE and HA products, the offline business shift to online, and the delay in application of 5G technology. However, due to the shift to remote work and virtual learning, the demand for personal computers has increased by 17 percent, overturning the year-over-year sales shrinkage of 10 percent in 2019.
In the coming one to two years, consumers will pay more attention to the health-tracking functions of CE products such as heart rate detection, due to the experience of COVID. More sales will be generated from the e-commerce channel. And remote work will become the norm, so laptops, tablets, computer accessories, small home appliances and energy-saving home appliances will continue to be popular.

Yi Ma: What will be the most popular CE products in the world in 2021?

Ivan Zou: Based on trends observed on Alibaba.com, the most popular CE products will be smartphones, True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds and smart wearable products.

Yi Ma: What are the most popular HA products in the world in 2021?

Ivan Zou: Based on other trends we’ve observed on Alibaba.com, the most popular HA products in 2021 will be air purifiers, small kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and freezers. This is mainly driven by two factors: a) consumers will pay more attention to maintaining a healthy home environment; and b) consumers will be spending more time at home.

Yi Ma: What overall factors are behind the increase in CE and appliances sales in the world, and how has that affected the growth in prominence of brands?

Ivan Zou: One factor is newer technologies: Newer technologies improve human life and generate new demand. For example, 4K high-definition products improve the gaming experience, SSD products significantly save time in transferring files, and wireless chargers enable users to get rid of cables.
Another factor is the growth of cross-border ecommerce: Today customers in Africa can directly purchase value-for-the-money products with decent quality from suppliers in China. Fans of PlayStation products in China were able to buy latest PS5 when PS5 was launched in Japan. Regarding the impact to brands, those brands that have unique and cool technology stand to gain more market segment share.

A Look at Retailing in China

By Editorial TeamFebruary 24, 2021

Progressive ecommerce, and in-store methods that could provide templates for future retailing in the U.S.

By Bjorn Ognibeni, Practical Visionary and Co-Founder, ChinaBriefs

Smart shopping carts at JD.com’s supermarket chain 7fresh (Source: JD.com)

Although there are many different online stores vying for consumers’ attention and dollars during Black Friday Week through Christmas, have you ever noticed that the design of the shopping experience has hardly changed in the last 20 years? Retailers learned how to sell online at some point in the late ‘90s. And after that? Not much since has happened in the way of fundamental change in methods.

For sure, there are numerous differences in details – faster deliveries here, a “get inspired” button there. But the core of the shopping experience is hardly different and consists primarily of clicking through endless lists of identically designed product displays: Photos, description, price and delivery terms. If things are going well, there are a few interesting customer reviews to boot. It’s all clear and functional – but also rather boring.

The design of Internet stores is somewhat reminiscent of the design of passenger cars. Where everyone is oriented to the same target variables, everyone arrives at the same solutions. And where companies and customers have only once understood how something works, one forgets at some point that it could perhaps also work differently. I noticed this myself when I was clicking through the wasteland of the most recent Cyber Monday offer lists.

‘Singles Day’ Successes
Shortly before that, I had been looking at the latest trends occurring for Chinese “Singles Day,” where many things work very differently, with a clear focus on making online shopping a real experience. Singles Day is the name given to November 11 in China because its four ones symbolize a meeting of four singles. Retail giant Alibaba came up with the idea of turning this day into a shopping event in 2009. At that time, their brand platform, TMall, was still quite new and they were looking for an approach to make it better known. So Singles Day became a day when singles gave each other gifts – analogous to Valentine’s Day for non-singles. And the gifts for were found on TMall.
In the meantime, the day has left its humble origins behind and the so-called Double11 has become a national event in China, which many other retailers – online and offline – have also discovered for themselves. Alibaba now refers to it as the “Global Shopping Festival,” and for 2020, over $74.1 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) was turned between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11.
This represents a 26 percent year-over-year increase and is a good indication that Chinese consumers have put pandemic worries behind them as regards their shopping behaviors. By comparison, all online retailers in the U.S. made a combined $24.6 billion in sales last year on the days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
You can also see how important Double11 has become internationally, by the fact that, according to Alibaba, thousands of U.S. brands participating in 2020 generated a GMV of more than 5.4 billion U.S. dollars on its own platforms – making the U.S. the most important country by sales after China itself.
In addition to impressive sales figures, there are also a number of other interesting aspects to the topic of e-commerce in China. For example, in large cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, many orders are not delivered on the same day, but rather, within the same hour. Or that autonomous vehicles are increasingly being used for logistics: in cities, in the form of delivery robots, and in the countryside, over the air with drones, to bridge the last mile.

The Grand Finale of Double11 2020, with a GMV of US$74.1B (Source: Alizila.com)

Shopping as Entertainment
As alluded to earlier, another major difference is in the design of the actual shopping experience. Both Alibaba and competitors such as JD.com or Pinduoduo are increasingly trying to turn their shopping apps into a real experience – one that can also hold its own in the evening “competition on the couch” against draws such as Netflix: Instead of watching their favorite series online, people like to go shopping for a while.
Many product presentations are, correspondingly, quite lively. For example, an unpacking video of the gadget that interests you at the moment is provided, or the presentation might offer comprehensive background information on the exciting new brand. Chinese consumers sometimes spend up to 10 minutes on the pages of individual products to get detailed information.
And there are also many playful elements that suit certain target consumer groups that can make online shopping more entertaining. For example, the big stars at this year’s Singles Day were little “virtual” kittens that you could raise in your app to receive coupons and discounts in return.
High entertainment value is also the focus of another very popular store feature: live shopping. Here, retailers present their products in livestreams that sometimes run for hours. You can imagine this as thousands of individual mini-QVCs via which you can buy hundreds of thousands of items.
Depending on the sender, the quality of both the products and the presentation can vary significantly: from farmers streaming live from the field or the weekly market, to owners of smaller stationery stores, to highly professional live streamers, some of whom earn over 10,000 euros a month, a colorful streaming scene has evolved.

Chat – and Beyond
Currently, Facebook, Amazon and many brands are working on comparable offerings here in the West. But one important feature will probably not be as much of a focus here as it is in China, even though it is crucial for success there: the opportunity for direct interaction. That’s what really brings out the advantages of a live stream. Mostly via a chat function, viewers can exchange information with each other, ask questions, or in some cases even help design products. Potential buyers can click through many very lively live streams in the apps of the various providers. Instead of looking through monotonous product lists, it feels more like walking through a marketplace, with lots of opportunities to take a look at individual offers and have a chat.
The example of Austin Li, who mainly sells lipsticks via his live shows and is now famous throughout the country as the “Lipstick King,” shows that sales are also made in the process. On Nov. 11 of 2019, he was on the air for six hours, during which time he sold lipsticks worth more than 40 million U.S. dollars to his approximately 37 million viewers. Overall, the South China Morning Post’s China Internet Reports projects more than 600 million live streaming users and $16.3 billion in revenue by 2020.
Increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities are also being used to support online shopping. For example, this year on Nov. 11, Alibaba deployed AI systems for the first time that automatically and simultaneously translated Chinese live streams into other languages to reach other markets.
Another interesting AI-based innovation: virtual anchors – animated AI avatars that assist human presenters. What currently still looks like a cartoon and a gimmick could soon enable a completely new, interactive shopping experience: individual advice from an AI avatar that knows your exact needs and enables genuine, scalable, one-to-one dialog. In doing so, the opportunities offered by this technology are likely to go well beyond what we know from chatbots and also enable interaction on an emotional level.
At this point, you’re probably wondering if you really need all this. After all, with a good search and clear lists, you can get to the goods you want quickly and easily. Of course, a lot of things that work well in China wouldn’t stand a chance here – too cluttered, too playful, too unfamiliar. Both store operators and customers here know too well how e-commerce works. Why change anything?

Automobile brands like BMW are using livestreaming technology to introduce consumers to car models, interiors, and the experience of test drives. (Source: Alizila.com)

Rethinking What Works
This reveals a pattern that we see again and again when we compare developments in Asia in general with those in the West: we learn how to do something new, become really good at it, and then at some point we’re done. From then on, we only optimize on a small scale. It seems unnecessary to really rethink things. After all, everything works.
In contrast, the example of e-commerce shows that new ideas also bring with them completely new possibilities. On the more emotional Chinese platforms, for example, brands are also feeling at home that have so far deliberately avoided the efficiency machine that is Amazon. That is why products from companies such as Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna and Mont Blanc are also available via the TMall Luxury Pavilion. At the same time, competitor JD.com delivers luxury brands with limousines and white gloves.
And those who manage to become part of the daily entertainment routine in the living room do not have to buy their traffic by spending a lot of money with Google – which for many Western store operators is an essential but very expensive part of their own sales strategy. That’s an option that Chinese online retailers often don’t have, by the way, because in their own mobile-only Internet, customers rarely come to them via web searches.
While in the West, established, successful companies continue to do what has made them successful in the past, in China, extreme competitive pressure combined with consumers who readily embrace every innovation means that there is no such thing as an optimizing standstill. Even big players like Alibaba or JD.com are forced to constantly try out new ideas and concepts. As a result, they often think very far ahead – further, even, than such innovative companies as Amazon.
A current example of this is the latest e-commerce trend in China: C2M – Consumer to Manufacturer. Here, consumer demand directly controls the production of individual items in sometimes very small batch sizes. Since this is hardly possible with existing industrial processes, Alibaba presented the concept for a new, digital factory last September.
This is an exciting trend and one that bears watching from the West as it evolves in the Chinese market. Stay tuned!

Autonomous delivery robot “XiaomanLV” from Alibaba (Source: AlibabaCloud.com)