Development and Evolution of Independent Cross-Border E-commerce Websites in China and Model Selection

Analysis of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Independent Websites and Third-party Platforms

In recent years, with the rise of various overseas cross-border e-commerce platforms in the Chinese market, the independent website e-commerce model has gradually gained attention. Compared to third-party platforms, independent websites have many advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of third-party platforms include easy accessibility and existing large amounts of high-intent shopping traffic. However, in the current decline stage of platform traffic dividend, sellers on third-party platforms also face significant challenges.

The main challenges lie in fierce homogenized competition, making it difficult for products to stand out. Consumers find it hard to remember brand or store names after purchasing products, thus forming repeat purchase behaviors is difficult. In addition, marketing methods are limited by platform rules and have limited room for independent creativity.

The main advantages of independent websites

In comparison, independent websites have more advantages. First, independent websites have more autonomy, being able to set their own rules and marketing strategies, leveraging personalized advantages. Second, independent websites can accumulate user data, build brand loyalty, achieve user stickiness and repeat sales. In addition, independent websites can directly engage with consumers, build brand awareness and trust, enhance user experience.

Shortcomings of Independent Websites

However, independent websites also have shortcomings. The setup and operation costs of independent websites are relatively high, requiring high demands on technology and traffic. At the same time, independent websites lack ready-made traffic within the platform, needing to attract and maintain users on their own, investing more efforts and resources.

Guide to Choosing an E-commerce Model for Independent Websites

For platform sellers who wish to transition to independent websites or manufacturing factories and product development teams entering cross-border e-commerce retail, how should they choose the appropriate independent website model? Here are several main independent website e-commerce models:

1. Self-built independent website: Completely independently build an independent website, attract and maintain users on their own, and establish brand loyalty.

2. Independent Website + Third-party Platforms: Use the independent website as the brand's official site, supplemented by third-party platform channels to increase brand exposure and sales.

3. Independent Website + Social E-commerce: Combine social media platforms to attract users through social marketing and improve conversion rates.

4. Independent Website + Content E-commerce: Provide attractive content to attract user visits and increase user engagement.

In conclusion, for companies and teams looking to develop independent cross-border e-commerce websites, choosing the right model is crucial. By flexibly applying different models based on weighing their respective advantages and disadvantages, it will help enhance brand influence and sales performance.

Advantages of Independent Websites

The advantages of independent websites lie in their ability to accumulate their own user base, achieve subsequent repeat marketing and cross-selling. Through communication with users, direct feedback on products can be obtained, and product optimization can be continuously improved. As users accumulate, the website's value will also gradually increase.

Furthermore, as an independent website, you can fully control your brand, adopt flexible ways to design marketing activities and promotions, without being restricted by third-party policy or rule changes.

Disadvantages of Independent Websites

Independent stations have a certain threshold for entry, requiring basic website building and operation capabilities. Even with the popularity of third-party SAAS website building tools, skills in basic website user experience, shopping process setup, and product detail page are still required.

Furthermore, the biggest issue with independent stations is the lack of free organic traffic. It is necessary to establish your own traffic channels and carry out user operations to maximize user retention, conversion, and value discovery.

Analysis of the Independent Station Model

There are various models for independent stations, one of which is the B2B or B2W (wholesale) model. This model relies on domestic manufacturer resources, targets overseas small and medium enterprise customers or retail customers, and achieves bulk sales of products. Such websites will set minimum order quantities or order amounts, complete orders through online payments, and deliver products through cross-border logistics.

Another model is the independent site 'distribution mode B2C', which mainly appeared around 2004 to 2010. During this period, both the cost advantage of Chinese manufacturing and the cost of internet traffic were relatively low, so the enterprises engaged in this model were able to develop smoothly. However, as time passed, the development of this model gradually lagged behind and no longer suited the current environment.

In summary, whether to choose an independent site or a third-party platform depends on individual circumstances, but it is recommended to choose a suitable model based on the current development trajectory.

Vertical boutique B2C model

This model appeared around 2010, mainly originating from some sellers represented by wedding dresses. Faced with intense competition and copyright issues, they gradually began to transform and deeply cultivate the industry vertically. Representative companies include Shein, Soufeel, Tidebuy, Jollychic, Sammydress, Patpat, etc. This model deeply integrates the product supply chain, gradually transitioning to original design and innovation. In addition, marketing is continuously optimized, focusing on user data and advertising efficiency, achieving user growth through advertising to acquire new users and user re-marketing design.

Mobile E-commerce Model

The mobile e-commerce model matured mainly after 2012, with typical representatives such as Jollychic, Clubfactory, Fordeal, etc. These enterprises have experienced teams, strong technical support, abundant capital support, and target the huge population dividend of emerging markets and regions in the Internet. Besides Southeast Asia and the Middle East, similar opportunities exist in other regions, but technology and capital will become entry barriers.

Micro-Innovation Self-Built Platform Model

Cash on Delivery (COD) Model, first appeared in the second half of 2016. Fujian sellers created product pages similar to Taobao details pages and promoted them through Facebook to customers in regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, etc. This model significantly improved the conversion rate of user orders. The products sold include leather goods, tea sets, etc. Later, it was studied by domestic mobile Internet traffic giants, but as competition intensified and traffic costs increased, challenges also grew. Excellent sellers who value product quality, logistics, and after-sales experience can stand out, and can still develop steadily when facing market challenges.

In general, different e-commerce models have different performances and development situations in different market environments and stages. Adapting to market changes and continuously improving user experience are key to the long-term development of enterprises.

Dropshipping Model

The dropshipping model, known as Dropshipping overseas, focuses on traffic, does not hold inventory, and products are shipped directly from the factory or warehouse by the supplier after the customer places an order. Typically, it uses Shopify for website building, Oberlo for product selection, and Facebook for promotion. This model originated from the foreign Affiliate community, mainly founded by internet veterans who are good at marketing and traffic operation. They understand the habits of overseas consumers, are familiar with internet promotion channels and tools, and thus have developed rich product selection and marketing strategies. Phonebibi, dudegadgets, and others are well-known representatives of this model.

Independent Brand Website Model

Brand independent station is not a new model, but with the intensification of homogenized competition in cross-border e-commerce, more and more outstanding brand sellers are emerging, making this model more important. Brand independent station is the official sales website built by brand merchants, focusing on product design and development, brand marketing promotion, and user communication and operation capabilities. Brand independent station is suitable for entrepreneurial teams with product research and development capabilities or businesses transitioning from factories, such as Anker, Mobvoi, and Crazybaby, among other excellent representatives.

Overseas WeChat business model

The overseas WeChat business model grafts the mature domestic WeChat business model into the field of cross-border e-commerce, especially popular in the culturally close Southeast Asian region. By accumulating on platforms such as WeChat Overseas Edition, WhatsApp, Line, Facebook Group, etc., online transactions are achieved through systematic scripts and one-on-one communication. This is a relatively new model still in exploration, hoping for the emergence of more successful enterprises.