Welcome to our new blog series where we will be featuring the most innovative publishers in their field sharing their stories. In this first blog, Impact’s Strategic Partnerships Director, Richa Dani, chatted with BorderX Lab’s Jeff Unze, President Strategic Partnerships and Nancy Zhang, Head of Partnerships New York, to learn more about their company and how they are revolutionizing the mobile commerce space for global Chinese users.
Can you tell us a bit about BorderX Lab?
Sure, the company is BorderX Lab and the app is called Beyond. We’re designed to be a cross-border mobile marketplace for global Chinese. Our goal is to bring the same consumer lifestyle that someone in San Francisco or London has to Greater China, but also to Chinese people across the globe. We have customers in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore US, and Canada.
How do you make your product relevant to the Chinese audience for your merchants?
We spend a lot of time building out different technologies to really be a turnkey solution for these merchants. We offer localization. We handle everything from payment to translation, all the way to returns from overseas. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for these companies to go to market profitably.
What percentage of your users are based in China vs Global?
It really varies month to month because we’re making a big push here in the US and Canada. For example, gifting is very popular among Chinese students in the US as well Chinese Americans and Chinese Canadians. Our platform makes the gifting process seamless to their friends and family back home – especially during the Chinese New Year. At present, I would say we’re somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% to 90% depending on the month in China, because that’s where our best value proposition is, and then the other 15% – 20% is around the world.
What differentiates you as an organization?
Technology. It’s at the core of everything we do. We were founded by three computer science PhDs and the strength of the company is building out these technical, scalable solutions to solve some problems.
No one has our combination of technology, transparency and know-how. We are a silicon valley company that has created this great technology that allows you to sell to global Chinese with little or no integration. We have no hidden fees and are very transparent about who our customers are. Most importantly, 2/3rds of our employees are in China, they understand the market and know how to take care of our merchant’s customers.
I would say the biggest value proposition is our content. We have 12 content editors that are churning out between 50 and 60 articles each and every day. This content is what drives sales on our platform. Think of us as a sort of an online magazine that tells people what’s worth buying. That content is an important selling point for us, and it drives (depending on the merchant) anywhere from 50 to 70% of our sales right now.
That’s a very interesting model. Where do you distribute your content?
We have a little less than 10 million downloads so far of our app and we are purely a mobile app. We also post high quality content which gets a lot of sharing on Weibo, WeChat and Douyin (a big video platform in China.) Last year, we had about 100 million unique Chinese speakers around the world who viewed at least one content piece. There’s this great halo effect where the product reviews and articles that we post get read by a lot of people. We’ve worked with WeChat in the past and have a WeChat mini program (which is really the only way you can sell on WeChat). That program is also utilized by many of our merchants to sell.
Okay so let’s say Brand A wants to work with BorderX Lab. What would the partnership process look like?
Brand Fit: When a brand wants to work with us, we send it to our analytics team to review. Our analytics team tries to ascertain the advantages – be it the product line, their promotion/price, or exclusivity of items only available via that brand which would make it attractive for our users. Based on this analysis, we decided whether to work with them or not.
Credit Card Whitelisting: People in China don’t have US credit cards. They use mobile payment solutions like WeChat Pay, Alipay which is available within our platform. Thus, a user would buy Brand A products on our platform using one of those payment methods and we use custom scripts and Impact’s tracking link to place the order on Brand A’s website. Our corporate credit card is used to place the order which is why we need the Brand to whitelist our credit card. This helps avoid their anti fraud system and cancelling valid orders. It’s an important point, though, that we have no fraud on our platform and there’s no charge backs. A lot of companies have charge back problems domestically and internationally. However, we never face that problem on our platform because WeChat Pay and AliPay are very secure payment methods as is our corporate credit card.
Content team introduction: Another important part is that we liaise with the content team and the promotional team within Brand A’s company to understand their promotional calendar, new product releases, which products are trending, etc. This helps our team write content around it and develop a good narrative about the brand!
What do you think are the biggest challenges for merchants to enter the Chinese market?
There are a billion Chinese users out there. They have a very strong purchasing power and interest, but I think one of the biggest challenges for them is the transaction process. There’s a lot of friction. Only 1%-2% of the Chinese who live in China actually have access to an international credit card like Amex or Visa. Also, it’s really difficult to translate the product listings into Chinese. Typically, companies translate the navigation bar and some content, but they’re not able to translate hundreds of thousands of SKUs worth of product descriptions and data – especially if they are a multi-brand store. It’s just not scalable for a smaller medium-sized business. Even for larger businesses with machine translation, it’s possible, but it’s not 100% accurate so it’s not a pleasant shopping experience for users.
What percentage of increase in sales can merchants expect when they work with you?
Typically, merchants will convert Chinese speaking customers 5X better when they work with our model vs. driving them directly to their English site. Our logistics, localization, payment and content do a great job removing the friction from cross-border transactions. In terms of raw sales, it really depends on the merchant. We put all our merchants into different tiers, but we try to get every merchant to the lowest tier quickly through a 90-day launch cycle ($50,000/month). Our content helps businesses with a mature China outreach get a new batch of first time customers and helps them test new products without inventory risk. I think that any company that is doing zero business to Chinese certainly has a lot to gain from working with us – incremental growth.
Can tell us a little bit about your partnership with Impact currently?
Our partnership with Impact has grown steadily over the last six months. We’re starting to bring on more merchants. Impact’s technology is intuitive and makes it easy to track and understand the details of every transaction regardless of device. We are very excited about our partnership with Impact – it has really helped us unlock some doors that were previously closed to us. We also really appreciate Impact’s customer service. You have taken the time to learn and understand our business model and how it’s different from others.
Looking to the future, what is the biggest opportunity on the horizon for the Partnership industry?
Opportunities? Globalization. China is the biggest e-commerce market in the world, over twice the size of the US. It’s a whole new huge market for retailers to conquer.
If you would like to find out more about our Impact Publisher Development Team or if you would like to tell your story on our blog, get in touch here.