1) Let's talk about how Taobao (of Alibaba) approaches selling apparel in different way to Amazon (and why I think its better).

It's a mix of product design which mirrors the shopping experience, sophisticated AI recommendations and superior customer service (even to Amazon)
2) Amazon has a product philosophy of selling based around SKUs and high intent search. When I open the app and search for items, I often wouldn't see the same item twice. As the sellers are all aggregated around the same product SKUs.

The platform is geared towards utility.
3) Taobao's designs reflect an understanding that apparel (especially non-basic clothing) is around mimetic desire.

Their search pages will often show the very similar items sold by different shops in lifestyle photo spreads. It's also highly tailored to your previous browsing
4) Seeing a similar trend come up again and again in an Instagram feed-like stream mirrors the browsing experience of popping into shops on a high street. You get a feel for what's hot and relevant for you this summer.

I searched for 'Black blouse" on both platforms
5) Product pages are often video and livestreaming-first. When I tap into a product, I can watch how it looks on a living person straight away or go to the livestreaming by a shop assistant. The experience is more immersive.
6) In general the pictures are high quality and aspirational, they wouldn't look out of place in a fashion magazine. This heightens the overall aesthetic but is nothing to write home about.

What is interesting is that if we scroll down the product page, we come across...
7) Taobao is structured around replicating stores. So further down the page, I can see a page to the 'store' this item is from. I can see various rankings for the store itself.

I can also click through to the store anytime by the orange button on the bottom left
8) Each store has its own landing page which displays its brand and new products, I can also see goods selection by different season and categories.

I feel like I'm browsing a shop. As knowing their general aesthetic, it became a form of entertainment, just like shopping irl.
9) Of course their algorithm also make sure I see the most relevant items in the shop based on my browsing history first.

It's like the most intelligent shop assistant saw me walk through their store, saw what I looked at, gathered other items and served them to me
10) Lastly the customer service is individualised. I can pick an item and ask questions about it to the store operator (the responses are quick during operating hours) questions around fit, quality of clothing, etc. Good for items without extensive reviews aka the long tail items
11) The service button is very prominent (second bottom left) and good to assuage users' trust in the store

Fulfilment is very swift and cheap. Shopping fees vary from store to store (80% of my shipping has been free but has return fees)
12) I can then track my package's location in real-time on a map once the package is posted, I can call the delivery person's phone and vice versa if there are any issues.

Users get spoilt quickly with Chinese e-commerce.
13) I'm curious whether Amazon will introduce some of these elements in their product too. I think the ethos of making shopping an entertaining activity might run counter to their efficiency-oriented product approach but let's see.
I'm writing threads like this for the rest of May, follow me if you'd like these to spam your TL.

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More from @lillianmli

6 May
1) Let's talk about the international investment strategy of Tencent and Alibaba (and how this differs from their domestic strategy).

Both are kingmakers in the Chinese ecosystem as they bring value-add. But how does this translate once they turn towards international markets?
2) Domestically, Tencent and Alibaba are tier 1 investors in the Chinese VC system. What they bring to the table is traffic in the form of being allowed access to closed garden ecosystems.

Non-Tencent invested companies (aka Douyin) are cut off from sending links on wechat.
3) They are still 'strategic investors' at the end of the day, and similar to CVCs of the West, investment decisions will involve both financial and strategic considerations.
Their investment decisions will typically involve input from both business units and the investments.
Read 17 tweets
3 May
1) Let's talk about Tencent Music ($TME) which at a market cap of $29.5bn is the largest music platform in China.
Its strategies for success, positioning and where its future is.
2) Tencent Music today is a consolidated entity between three big music brands QQ music, KuGuo and Kuwo (and a few smaller brands).
Each of these brands has a different positioning from its legacy user base. Though an inorganic evolution, this is great brand strategy
- KuGuo - blue-collar, 25-30 year old
- QQ music - White-collar professionals, students
- Kuwo - Married 30-40 year olds typically has kids

Each of these groups has different purchasing capacity, interests and music interests. Having sub-brands allows more precise targeting
Read 12 tweets
1 May
1) Let's kick off May Chinese tech threads.

In 2017, Ctrip was the undisputed OTA market leader with ~50% of China's online hotel bookings. They quashed competitors and lead a consolidation of the OTA market.

By 2018, they had lost all of that to Meituan.

Wtf happened?
2) The one KPI that rules Chinese consumer super apps - Meituan's secret sauce and their reason for all in on Community Group Buying (CGB)

It's not DAU, it's not AOV, it's not GMV

It's the frequency of use per day
3) I've said this many times, relative to western consumer tech companies, who tend to focus on “serving a function” as their core mission, Chinese companies tend to focus on “owning the user” as their core mission.
Read 17 tweets
29 Apr
1) State of Chinese Cloud - Part II

I propose a theory of digital transformation journey called Digitalisation-Cloud-Automation journey (DCA journey for short) and argue that each stage of the DCA journey enabled subsequent stages to occur for the West.
2) The journey is sequential as each step unlocks new business models and technology needs that would be unfeasible or unwanted at an earlier stage. Image
3) This development sequence is the assumed path for cloud adoption and growth of SaaS, but not so for China. China is undergoing all three stages of digitalisation, cloud adoption and automation concurrently rather than sequentially. Image
Read 5 tweets
3 Apr
1) Prediction: China domestic brands and design will enter into a golden age in the coming 5 years, with at least one DTC brand breaking the $100bn market cap.

This is from a combination of growing demand and supply of innovative brand storytelling and design.
2) On the demand side, the rise of Gen Z heralds a new generation of brand-agnostic consumers who doesn't implicitly hold western brands in high regards. They are focused on expressing individuality and control the spending power of 2 generations from parents to grandparents
3)Western brands are not only too mainstream but also tainted with political allegiances given geopolitical tension.
These brands' haven't been able to provide hyper-local zeitgeist products. Chinese traditional embroidery is table-stakes. Where's the hanfu, lolita and JK stuff?
Read 11 tweets
23 Mar
1) Chinese e-commerce homepage UX analysis.

I took screenshots of Taobao, Pinduoduo and JD’s homepage and ran them through a translation layer so it’s not perfect. But I’ll explain what they are

Let’s go through each of them in turn. Taobao first:
2)With super apps, the landing page should be thought of a the control panel.
As such top two rows are leading to other Alibaba products - these include Tmall (more upscale Taobao), Tmall international (overseas goods), Tmall supermarket, Flying pig (travel booking) and grocery
3) There’s also functions like voucher, gold coins (loyalty points) and categories.

You also the see the prompt message at the top, which always highlight the deals of the week for you to browse.

There’s also the live-streaming portal, which is TikTok like.
Read 14 tweets

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