with Allison Smith, Xiaofeng Wang and Vanessa Zeng
Chinese social platforms have started to engage in commerce via partnerships with eCommerce marketplaces, but online sales conversion rates from social traffic have been disappointing. For example, in May, 360buy (JD.com) — the second-largest B2C eCommerce marketplace — received a level-one access point on WeChat, the hottest social platform in China, but this didn’t deliver the large quantity of fulfilled mobile orders that the company expected. Haoyu Shen, CEO of JD.com, confirmed during the company’s Q3 financial earnings call that the majority of fulfilled mobile orders still originate from JD.com’s own mobile app. Forrester sees two major inhibitors of social commerce in China:
People don’t expect to see commercial promotions of products they don’t want on social media. Consumers normally blacklist friends or public accounts that push these ads, making it difficult to implement traditional B2C or C2C eCommerce models on social platforms. However, if social marketplaces can provide people a tool in those moments in which they actually want to buy a certain product, it may enable social commerce.
Customers have poor discovery and buying experiences on social commerce platforms. Social platforms in China that sell products and services online have limited search functionality, which does not make for a user-friendly customer discovery stage. Chinese consumers have gotten used to being able to compare many products and prices when making online purchases — but current social commerce platforms can’t support that.
On October 14, I attended Big Data & Business Insights 2014 in Bangkok — the first public big data event in Thailand. I spoke about how to use big data to increase customer value in the age of the customer — a topic that seemed a bit distant from the audience’s daily reality. Most of them use traditional data warehouse and business intelligence tools and are new to big data solutions like Hadoop platforms, big data visualization, and predictive solutions. Here’s what I came away with:
Big data is still new to Thai businesses. Most big data projects in Thailand are still at the testing stages, and these trials are taking place in university labs rather than commercial environments. Dr. Putchong Uthayopas of the Department of Computer Engineering at Kasetsart University noted that big data projects in Thailand are now moving from pilot projects to actual usage.
Organizations need more details of real big data solutions. Thai businesses have held off investing in big data solutions because they felt uncertainty about the outcomes of big data projects. Attendees showed a lot of interest when I talked about big data usage in traditional industries, such as John Deere’s “Farm Forward” use case, which helped farmers make better decisions on what, when, and how to plant.
Tencent’s news portal is one of the largest online news portals in China, with more than 25 channels covering all types of news. Tencent faces fierce competition, which it intends to combat by building its analytics competency. With the eyes of millions of Chinese soccer fans on the World Cup, Tencent has a chance to better target its news and reports by using social analytics — which the news portal did by launching a mini-site of World Cup 2014 coverage. More than 50 advertisers showed interest in the World Cup site, thinking that it would differentiate Tencent’s news offerings and draw more traffic. And they were right: The site got more than 3 million hits in the first week of the Cup.
Tencent now has the first social analytics website for sports in China. Supported by IBM’s Social Analytics engine and hosted in its SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong, the site aggregates data from most leading Chinese social platforms including Qzone, Renren, Sina Weibo, and Tencent Weibo. Full coverage of these social platforms can help Chinese businesses get a fuller picture of customers to better personalize and target offers. Tencent’s news editors also have a separate social analytics tool to find buzzwords or popular terms on social platforms and highlight these attention-getting phrases in their titles and articles.
This investment is delivering two major benefits to Tencent: