How Amazon Localized For China

Willis Wee
4:30 pm on Sep 12, 2012


For western companies, China is probably the hardest country to localize for. But Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is trying hard in China and has come a long way. It acquired Lei Jun’s e-commerce startup Joyo six years ago, before changing its China branding to last October (Chinese name: 亚马逊 – ya ma xun).

At the China Internet Conference earlier today, CEO Wang Hanhua shared some interesting localization strategies that the American e-commerce giant has adopted.

Wang says that China is the only country in the world in which Amazon delivers goods on its own. And this year the company is expected to deliver more than 20 million items, and Amazon users can receive their purchases on average within 2.5 days. This was largely made possible thanks to a 160,000 square-meter warehouse located in Tianjin, north-eastern China. Wang said:

Amazon’s service in China has surpassed its service in the US. Our founder, Jeff Bezos, has also tried delivering goods in China himself.


Amazon subway ad in China

Wang also noted that unlike Americans, Chinese don’t really care when the goods are delivered. They only care when the items they purchased will arrive and if they will ever arrive. So on, it will state what time of day the items will arrive at your doorstep.

Even in product search, underwent some minor localization. Wang explains that non-Chinese usually click and hit the back button whenever they are looking back and comparing products. But for Chinese, they prefer to open different windows in their browsers/tabs to search and compare products, and Amazon China adjusted to suit this behavior.

Also, 70 percent of buyers prefer to pay when goods are delivered. To make it easy for Chinese to pay, Wang claims that Amazon China is the first to introduce portable POS so users can pay the delivery guy via credit card at their doorstep.

Last year, we mentioned that users can actually key in the super short URL to access The change was made because Amazon is an English word (unlike, say, Baidu) which makes it hard for Chinese consumers to remember. Wang closed on an insightful note that any e-commerce company can benefit from:

Localizing your service isn’t about what you and I think, it’s about how the market thinks.

  • Key Changer

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  • carter

    How successful is Amazon in China really though? It appears that they had 2.3% market share in Q2 2012.

    Their market share in Q2 2011 was exactly the same – 2.3% – so they do appear to be pretty static at present.

    Worse is that they have been passed since Q2 2011 by both Suning and Tencent. So they appear to be number 5 in the market.

    Everybody larger than them did not have a presence when Amazon entered the market six years ago. Alibaba was wholly C2C, 360Buy did not exist, Tencent had not entered the physical e-commerce market, and Suning was an offline B&M business.

    If this is success what would failure look like?

  • Lavonna Killoy

    Amazon China?means their products are by chinese?

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