The much-anticipated Salesforce and Alibaba Cloud partnership is finally in action. Three additional Salesforce products have officially landed in China, exclusively provided by Alibaba, in December 2023. This collaboration is particularly beneficial for businesses aiming to enter or expand in the region, especially multinational companies.
In this article, we'll dive into Salesforce in China, exploring the challenges that brands encounter in this market and how Salesforce's tailored solutions can assist them in smoothly adapting as well as boosting sales and fostering customer loyalty.
China's vast size and rapid growth make it an appealing market for global brands. The 2023 China Marketing & Media Trends Report by Totem reveals that there are 4 to 12 more top brands per category in China.
However, navigating the Chinese market requires a clear understanding of its unique dynamics. Despite years of presence, many brands still lack a fundamental understanding of China, shaped significantly by its distinctive digital landscape.
This knowledge gap often leaves brands uncertain about where to begin and how to allocate their budget and resources effectively. Without adequate preparation, this can lead to unsuccessful market entry or, in some cases, eventual retreats and exits.
Outlined below are 3 fundamental challenges, including regulatory and technological hurdles, that all brands must be aware of when operating China:
Understanding and adhering to data regulations in China is a dynamic and evolving challenge.
While brands may be accustomed to working with global data protection frameworks, like the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), they should be aware that China's regulatory landscape is different.
The country has its own set of frameworks, including the Cyber Security Law (CSL), Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), and Data Security Law (DSL), each with distinct characteristics.
For example, in terms of the applicable scope alone:
Brands must carefully consider how data is processed and whether it is stored inside China to maintain compliance with local regulations. Obtaining authorization for accessing information is crucial.
Interactions between companies and customers in China differ fundamentally from those in other countries and regions.
China's digital market is dominated by the 4 giants — Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and ByteDance — collectively known as "BATB," capturing the majority of user attention.
The landscape has evolved further with the advent of real-time, location-based internet services, AI-powered algorithms, and multimedia, giving rise to the second and third waves of tech giants known as "TMD" (Toutiao/Douyin, Meituan, and Didi) and "PKB" (Pingduoduo, Kuaishou, and Bilibili).
While initially resembling Western markets dominated by Google, Amazon, and Facebook, these Chinese counterparts have transformed into "super-apps". These platforms offer a wide range of services, including social networking, e-commerce, entertainment, search, payments, and more.
China's network challenges can create unique hurdles, especially when dealing with cross-country access that can noticeably affect response times.
Given customer expectations for swift responses from applications and services, businesses need to strategize to minimize this impact and guarantee an optimal experience for their Chinese customers. Consider the following:
This localization initiative facilitates seamless collaboration among different teams throughout the customer journey. It empowers them to deliver personalized experiences, boost conversions, and foster enduring relationships.
In the context of China, Salesforce, in partnership with Alibaba, has adapted its products to cater to the region's specific needs. This collaboration enhances both companies' service offerings, aiding businesses in China — especially multinational corporations — in the following ways:
Below are 4 Salesforce solutions that are now available in China.
Hosted by Alibaba Cloud and operating on its infrastructure, these solutions empower enterprises of all kinds to fully harness the Salesforce CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform for their Chinese customers—the core of the 360 strategy.
These products provide businesses in China with a wide array of automation and workflow tools to enhance their sales and service processes.
The Cloud Platform is a low-code application development platform that expands the capabilities of CRM. Using an easy drag-and-drop interface, brands can create, test, and deploy applications to automate business processes, enhancing efficiency across workflows, users, departments, or industries.
Salesforce Sales Cloud is a sales management software (sales growth platform) designed to empower sales teams. It facilitates the sales lead identification, customer relationships management, sales progress tracking, and processes automation to expedite deal closures and drive revenue.
Service Cloud is a customer service platform that revolutionizes how service teams deliver value at every customer touchpoint. It encompasses customer experience, engagement, processes, automation, service operations systems, pre-built integrated applications, ticket management, knowledge base, and queue management.
A headless commerce platform, Salesforce Social Commerce assists brands in seamlessly overseeing and integrating e-commerce channels such as websites, mobile applications, and mini-programs.
By providing a comprehensive 360° customer view, it enhances customer experience and fuels business growth for brands in China.
By integrating Salesforce as your CRM system to centralize data and create comprehensive customer profiles, you empower every touchpoint and team with valuable insights for personalization and automation.
This ensures that each decision-maker and key employee (in Marketing, CRM, Retail, Sales, etc.) has configured access to the customer data, enabling them to make informed decisions, respond promptly to customer needs, and anticipate new opportunities, boosting efficiency and conversion rates.
Key benefits include:
However, as these Salesforce products have only recently launched in China, these questions persist and ITC will help you navigate them:
*Due to compliance concerns according to the Salesforce Technology Migration Data Manual on Alibaba Cloud
Ultimately, the decision to switch from local SaaS solutions or other systems to Salesforce offerings (all 4 or fewer) in China should be based on a case-by-case discussion.