Reach Chinese Students And Consumers, Here In Europe

chinese flagLatest statistics from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) put China firmly at the top of leagues tables for top ‘sending’ countries. These are the countries that send the most students to UK universities, contributing a sizable proportion of the student body overall.

Chinese students exceed any other nationality, 91,215 students in 2015-2016 compared to 17,405 from Malaysia, sitting in second place. China is also the only sending country that has seen any real growth in student numbers in recent years; whereas countries like India that has traditionally sent many students has seen a 44% decrease in the last five years.

Students are not the only export coming from China to the UK and Europe. Chinese tourist arrivals to Europe rose 65% year-on-year in the first half of 2017. Europe is the third most popular destination for Chinese tourists after Southeast Asia and East Asia. According to a joint report from the China Tourism Academy and two major Chinese travel agencies Italy, France, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and the Czech Republic, are the top 10 destinations for these outbound tourists. In 2016 Chinese tourists spent €100 billion globally outside of the China’s borders, spending on travel and products, especially in the luxury goods sector.

There are also 2+ million Chinese nationals living in Europe (including students), who are not just spending on hospitality, tourist attractions and branded products. This group is also spending on household items, paying bills, tuition fees, and the associated expenses of living overseas. This presents a great opportunity for merchants to reach new customers and build loyalty by providing Chinese consumers with a personalised customer experience.

There are also opportunities to reduce friction in the payment process, and help ensure that payments such as tuition fees are made on time – reducing the amount of admin for HE finance departments.

How To Attract And Convert Chinese Consumers

If your business or organisation is targeting Chinese consumers specifically, a multi-lingual websites or a microsite translated into either Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese could be an option. However, many merchants successfully sell to Chinese consumers without a fully translated website, instead ensuring that product or service descriptions are clear and concise, and that the customer journey is intuitive and easy to use.

Once the consumer has reached the payment stage of a purchase, abandoned shopping baskets are most likely to occur if the payment experience is unfamiliar. Online payments using credit cards are low in China at around 5%, and while offline credit card use has increased in recent years, culturally consumers don’t like to spend money they don’t actually have. Concerns about security make Chinese consumers wary about using debit cards online, and similarly online bank transfers are not popular because of data breach and hacking fears. Instead cash on delivery (COD) and alternative payment methods (APM) such as E-wallets are most popular.

Chinese consumers generally do not want to pay for goods until they have received them and are happy that they are satisfactory.

To increase conversion rates it is therefore important to offer Chinese consumers their preferred payment method, ensuring that they can make payments using a trusted method. This not only increases conversion rates but also builds trust with your business and increases loyalty and customer retention.

For UK and European merchants, COD is generally not an option they wish to explore. Typically, payment is made to the shipping company and then passed on to the merchant. This leaves alternative payment methods – but not global APMs like PayPal – as a viable way to offer Chinese consumers with a familiar payment option. Out of all the local APMs, Alipay is the clear leader enjoying over half the market share in China.

To put this market and reach in context, Alipay is triple the size of PayPal with 520+ million active users*. It also has 120 million users overseas – Chinese tourists, students, and Chinese nationals living around the world. The majority of online Chinese consumers have an Alipay account, and trust this method of payment.

Alipay is an escrow service where the consumer’s payment is held on account while the order is processed. Payment is released to the merchant once the customer acknowledges receipt of the goods. To find out more about how Alipay works and how it can be integrated in your payment process, download our Alipay product sheet here.

This alternative payment method is also ideal for taking payments for services and fees. Organisations like HE institutions that attract many of Chinese students who study in the UK and Europe, can optimise their payment journey for tuition fees and support services by introducing Alipay.

To discuss this in more detail, contact Hugh Aps on +44(0) 808 301 8539

* 520+ million active users end of Q3 2017