Many online businesses look to the Chinese market for expansion but are often ill-prepared to crack it. While China has around 700m internet users, a few mistakes can make it inaccessible. So what are exactly are challenges – and how can they be overcome?(1) Navigating the “Great Firewall” The Chinese government blocks thousands of domains to protect its citizens from potential exposure to what it sees as questionable content. While many bosses are confident that their website does not contain any offensive content, it is critical to ensure that your website meets these rules to avoid being blocked. A few recent cases illustrated how common it is for the algorithms checking websites to block a safe website in error. In one bizarre case, a meat producer’s website was automatically blocked because an image of a pig was falsely recognised as human skin and flagged as obscene. So taking a closer look at your website is crucial. Many websites contain social media buttons, a sidebar of “recent tweets” or even embed a video from YouTube. Each of these run the risk of having your website blocked, as such platforms are blocked in China. It is easy to overlook when many brands simply replicate the western website for the Chinese market. (2) Location, location, location There is also the issue of latency to consider: how long it takes for a website to load. Latency depends on the distance data must travel from its origin to the user requesting data – for a website hosted on the other side of the world, it can take some time for websites to load. The “Great Firewall,” with its automatic checks, also adds a few seconds to this. People are not patient, and consumers in China are no more patient than those elsewhere in the world – people will click away from the website they are trying to access after a few seconds. Loading times of half a minute or more will mean consumers abandoning your site before it loads. As such, hosting nearer to China will help – many firms consider hosting a data centre in Hong Kong, but despite being a part of China, it is outside of the “Great Firewall”. A content delivery network provider also means you can host a data centre in the UK and still have great performance in China.
Read more on China’s involvement with the UK:
- Five ways the Queen influences Chinese buyers – and why it’s good for UK business
- Chinese investors pave the way for European M&A activity
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