Despite there being an ever increasing trend towards Chinese buyers of seafood online preferring imported products, simply making it available to them won’t be enough to guarantee ongoing sales as more seafood brands enter the market. Chinese buyers’ interaction with international seafood companies has improved dramatically in recent years with brand loyalty now playing an unprecedented role in seafood purchase decisions. And likewise, foreign seafood companies have stepped up their marketing game in reaching millions of potential Chinese buyers.
But while bombarding the market with promotional material, many companies still struggle to deliver on their brand’s promises by not understanding who their buyers are and what they’re looking for in a business relationship. One of the emerging keys to differentiating your brand and successfully selling seafood to businesses in China is a high standard of customer service.
An example of customer service having such a pivotal role in China’s buyer behaviour can be seen in leading Chinese hotpot restaurant chain, Haidilao - widely considered in China as the ‘gold standard’ for business customer service. Customers of Haidilao restaurants will happily wait hours for a table because they’re offered things like free manicures, shoeshines, Internet and snacks while they wait, along with a similar service energy delivered throughout their dining experience. This obviously can’t be implemented for international seafood suppliers at the online marketplace, but the same sentiment of importance on customer-centric service can be.
Now, you might be asking yourself, ‘how can this level of customer service be executed when I’m selling seafood online?’ It comes down to two key factors:
Building a strong relationship with your customer base likens to the idea of Guanxi and personalising your brand. Chinese buyers are motivated by their ability to trust and the only way to build trust is to maintain personal relationships.
Face and hierarchy are huge elements to Chinese business and showing that you appreciate them in your everyday practice will take your seafood brand a long way. Things like having the right senior people deliver messages and respecting customs like Chinese New Year are simple to do but have a lasting effect.
Take the time to understand your Chinese buyers on an individual level. Know them, understand what makes them unique and appreciate what they’re looking for in buying seafood from overseas and you’ll find delivering a high standard of service a natural part of your everyday business practice.