For many companies looking to maximize their online growth, there is no better opportunity than the online market in mainland China. Unfortunately, claiming a share of this market is easier said than done, as Internet access within China isn’t quite the same as it is in the rest of the world, especially compared to Western countries.
This poses a problem not just for companies trying to reach this enormous market (estimated to be over 600 million online users at the end of 2013), but also for Chinese users who want to visit these companies’ websites. Foreign brands have perhaps the biggest opportunity for growth within this market, but are finding it difficult to provide a superior web experience for their customers due to China’s restrictions.
Current Challenges For Websites In China
Due to the Great Firewall of China, which has outright banned many websites, brands are finding it difficult to provide good web experiences for Chinese consumers. In addition to blocking traffic to some sites, the Great Firewall inspects every packet that flows into or out of the country, introducing huge delays in web page load times and increasing the likelihood of dropped packets as they pass through the Firewall.
For brands touting superior quality products, having a website that has less-than-exceptional performance can quickly harm the brand’s reputation abroad. Currently, the Internet infrastructure in China hinders bettering that performance by limiting the quality of DNS networks within the country. ISP monopolies contribute to this problem since there is no motivation for ISPs to work together in order to enable anycast networks.
Additionally, rampant counterfeiting is an issue that affects many brands, especially luxury brands, within China as consumers frequently purchase counterfeit products that they believe are authentic. When they inevitably have an issue with these counterfeit products, the customer often turns to the manufacturer expecting to receive help. Only then do they learn that they’ve purchased a fake, leaving them with a negative impression of the brand that wasn’t able to distinguish itself from the counterfeiters.
One of the best ways for a brand to protect consumers from counterfeiting is to provide reliable product information on their website that educates potential customers on how to distinguish between their actual products and counterfeit versions as well as where they can safely purchase these products.
In order to establish themselves as the best resource for this information, these brands’ websites need to provide a strong user experience so that visitors don’t abandon their site in pursuit of this information from another website – often one that’s run by the counterfeiters themselves.
Lastly, the Chinese government requires all companies to obtain an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license from the government before they can operate a website within the country. This license is only available to companies operating within China, requiring foreign companies to partner with a Chinese Internet company in order to leverage their license.
While partnering with Chinese Internet companies isn’t usually a major hurdle for reputable brands, it is yet another obstacle that these companies must address before reaching this market. All of these factors make it difficult for even the most globally prominent brands to earn their share of the Chinese market.
How Brands Succeed with DNS Networks Dedicated to China
The best solution for companies to address each of these issues is to move both their content and their DNS to providers that are dedicated specifically to mainland China. The issues of poor performance and reliability are best addressed by using a DNS service within China that routes visitors within the country – avoiding the need to cross the Great Firewall.
In order to ensure website requests never cross the firewall, all content and assets accessed from the website should be hosted within mainland China as well. Often the best method for hosting content within China is to utilize a Chinese Internet company that is willing to provide access to their Internet Content Provider license as well, removing the need to partner with an additional company in order to gain this access.
The performance increases that result from moving both your DNS and your content to networks specific to China can be invaluable to luxury brands. Not only will customers have a better experience when visiting the website, but they may be given a leg up when compared to their slower-performing competitors.