Before relations with China were normalized in the early part of the 70s there was very little business being done between our country and the Chinese. But several businesses were chomping at the bit for that country to open up. The hundreds of millions of potential consumers of soft drinks, designer clothing and music - among other things - were a marketers’ dream.
As for the online credit card business China has been thought by some not to be fertile territory even now. Chinese consumers have been characterized as sober and prudent - the kind who want to save and pay cash for everything - the kind who are more interested in a healthy savings account balance over material acquisition.
However, that may not be the case, which is good news for online companies hoping to crack the Chinese online shopping audience.
In a story on Forbes.com the dearth of online business coming from China isn't so much that its citizens are careful consumers, but that those citizens do not yet have the ready access to credit cards that we have in the West. In a survey by The China Market Research Group 70 percent (adults ages 18 to 32) said they are not saving and do see buying online with a credit card as a viable avenue to acquire what they want.
According to the article: Our findings suggest it is a lack of credit cards and other payment options, rather than a cultural aversion to buying online, that has curtailed the growth of e-commerce in China.
At this point Internet businesses may not be feeling optimistic over this finding because it doesn't seem to be helpful in regard to sales. However, banks in China are rolling out credit card services to their consumers with one estimate that there will be 250 million people with a card by the year 2013. Couple that with that 70 percent mention above and there is a potential windfall for smart online businesses that can reach across the Pacific.
But this brings up a larger topic for any online business owner and that is the Internet allows them to participate in the global virtual marketplace. Whether there is found by accident or located as the byproduct of a carefully constructed marketing campaign it bears repeating that anyone with a valid credit card and a good connection to the Internet can be your customer.
There was once a cartoon that showed two businessmen chatting during the cocktail hour, and one is trying to sound very important by asserting: “We now have one office worldwide. " The rhetoric sounded good even if the message was not.
However, your site can be worldwide with the addition of great credit card online processing services. It takes you from being a small-time phenomenon to a business that is selling its ware around the world. And whether you can get that sort of attention will depend on your efforts, but if you do not have merchant services you are assuredly scuttling your own efforts.
Jim Osterman is a Web content developer with Charge.com, a leading merchant services company that helps businesses find innovative credit card processing solutions.