China’s Great Firewall: why European e-commerce is failing in the Chinese market
The vast majority of European brand websites are delivering a poor experience for Chinese consumers, frustrated at the amount of time web pages take to load.
Some 85 percent of European websites fail to load within 4.8 seconds – the amount of time deemed acceptable by Chinese users. Worryingly for European brands, 60 percent of websites take up to five times longer for Chinese users to access.
According to a report released by CDNetworks, this poor performance is having a damaging effect on brand reputation, leading to concerns over security and brand longevity. It is also impacting revenues, with users immediately seeking alternative websites to make purchases.
Many of the issues European brands face can be attributed to China’s ‘Golden Shield’ or ‘Great Firewall’ as it is otherwise known. Its tendency to impact web searches, block content and occasionally make domains inaccessible, can cause unacceptably slow load times. Unless these challenges are anticipated and mitigated, they can have hugely damaging consequences.
To make matters for European brands worse, Chinese users are unsympathetic to the issues the Golden Shield creates and are losing patience with ongoing poor online performance. In fact, half of all Chinese users believe European brands should be capable of overcoming these challenges. More than half (60 percent) admit to actively avoiding non-Chinese websites with 44 percent of Chinese users believing non-Chinese brand websites perform consistently worse than native equivalents.
Additional key findings from the report include:
- While Chinese users expect a website to load in 4.82 seconds, the actual average load time of European brands’ websites in China is 33.1 seconds – almost seven times longer. After 24 seconds, Chinese users will give up on a website and look elsewhere.
- Almost half of users surveyed had been frustrated by a non-Chinese brand’s website within the past 48 hours, with more than three quarters frustrated in the last week.
- For 85 percent of Chinese users, a poor performing website translates to other negative impacts on a brand’s reputation. More than half of Chinese users are worried a slow website is an insecure website (57 percent), with users also citing concerns over unreliability (19 percent), a brand’s longevity (17 percent) and that a brand does not value Chinese custom (17 percent).
- While almost a third of potential customers will immediately try an alternative website, 54 percent are less likely to visit a poorly performing website again, with 69 percent less likely to recommend the brand to friends.
“The Chinese market represents a hugely lucrative opportunity for European brands eyeing global expansion,” says Alex Nam, Managing Director, CDNetworks EMEA. “A reliable and powerful online identity plays a critical role in establishing core brand values and making a positive first impression. Too many European brands are falling short of achieving this and will find it very difficult to recover negative perceptions without fully understanding how to navigate the complexities of delivering a positive online experience to Chinese users. The financial rewards for getting it right are significant.”
The full paper, entitled “European websites are letting Chinese users down”, is available to download.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”