If you read any technology news publication, you will probably find mention of how the “3rd platform” is revolutionizing the business landscape. If the 3rd platform is changing the face of global business, then its impact is even greater when you look at what it means for consumers in China—one of the most vibrant and fastest growing markets in the world. And at the heart of China’s digital acceleration is one undeniable force—MOBILE.

To help you understand what mobile really means for the Chinese economy, I want to share how it is impacting customer experiences in three of the most common industries—retail, taxi transportation and travel.

Mobile enables an entire country to fulfill its critical or impulsive shopping needs in just a few clicks.

 November 11, also known as “Singles Day”, is a special day in China. Traditionally, on this day (11.11), Chinese people who are still single get together to celebrate their “singlehood”. However, in recent times, this day has turned out to be a universal shopping spree day for all Chinese people. It rivals the excitement that surrounds the “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” shopping extravaganzas in the U.S. each November.

The impact of this day on the China’s online retailers has been incredible, especially for Taobao and Tmall, the biggest shopping sites in China owned by Alibaba. Taobao officials report that Mobile Taobao is the largest m-commerce platform in the world. During Alibaba’s 2014 twenty-four hour Shopping Festival on 11.11, transactions over mobile devices reached $3.95 billion, representing 42.6% of total gross merchandise volume for the company’s sale (Source: Forbes). To provide you with further context, the company’s revenue achieved through mobile devices in 2014 is 4.5x more than 2013 and 5x more than 2012.

With the ability to buy everything from boots to blenders and everything inbetween in a matter of seconds from the comfort of your living room or while riding the subway to work, it is absolutely astonishing at what mobile technology has meant for China’s avid shoppers. It will be interesting to see how mobile affects this year’s shopping season, which will be here in a 2 months. I definitely have my eyes on Nike jogging shoes for my work out plan and my daughter’s dresses which I plan to purchase from my phone sitting in my living room after I finish my meeting with my US colleagues.

Single Day Sale

Alibaba’s 24-hour “Singles’ Day” outperforms the top U.S. shopping holidays.

Mobile opens borders, allowing Chinese travelers to plan and purchase trips in a matter of seconds.

Ctrip is one of China’s leading travel websites. With 141 million members and 1.3 million flight routes in 210 countries, there is good reason to seriously consider what Ctrip has to say about the impact of mobile engagement for the travel industry. In my interview with Jason Shi, General Manager of Ctrip China Operations, he noted that, “in the near future, specifically for online transactions, 70%-80% will come from mobile applications.”

Ctrip’s mobile app provides a stress-free way for travelers to book hotels, flights and transportation.

Ctrip’s mobile app provides a stress-free way for travelers to book hotels, flights and transportation.

Mobile opens the door for taxi services, with winning seats reserved for those who prioritize customer-centric features.

Let’s also take a look at another story about Didi Kuaidi—China’s most successful taxi ordering app service. In a previous blog, I talked about the unique experience of this company. The company have evolved since I last wrote about it (not only because the two leading companies merged to form one powerhouse in February of this year), with some major funding injections from investors (billions of dollars) and continued innovation to provide better services to customers by enhancing its mobile app features.

In 2015, Didi Kuaidi launched “Didi Chauffeur”, which helps car owners connect with trained chauffeurs who can operate their personal vehicle if they are unable to drive. The company has already trained 160,000 chauffeurs

In 2015, Didi Kuaidi launched “Didi Chauffeur”, which helps car owners connect with trained chauffeurs who can operate their personal vehicle if they are unable to drive. The company has already trained 160,000 chauffeurs

Why is this company dominating the market and quickly pushing smaller competitors out of the running to win market share? It all comes down to customer-centric features that make it easier to do business and enticing offers to keep customers coming back.

  • For example, the taxi service has simplified payment—it only takes one click now, when it used to take 3, and this improvement means a lot to busy commuters rushing to get to work in the morning.
  • The company offers special discounts/coupons to keep customers interested. I remember when these companies first emerged that coupons were as low as $0.48, but now it is common to find coupons for as much as $2.40, which in some cases is enough to complete your entire trip for free.
  • Just a few months ago, it launched Didi Chauffeur, which “will help car owners find a qualified driver to chauffeur them around in their own vehicle when they are in no condition to drive, for example due to imbibing alcohol or being sick”. The company’s CEO notes the strong interest to hire and train drivers, saying that “We have already registered over 800,000 drivers for the service in less than two months…we’ve trained 160,000 of them to be chauffeurs in order to provide the best service” (Source: South China Morning Post).

So, what should companies seeking to win over China’s mobile-driven customers focus on?

  1. An agile development infrastructure. With the increased demand for efficient development and shorter delivery cycles, developers are facing a bigger challenge than ever before. Companies need to invest in the appropriate technology, processes and people to support the fast turnaround that consumers have grown to expect across most industries.
  2. Long-term customer loyalty. While China’s taxi services are winning customers today with heavy price discounts, it is important not to mistake repeat business based on price with the the long-term customer loyalty that can come from a truly high quality and personalized experience. As Walker Information points out in its research report, by 2020 “customer experience will overtake product and price as the key differentiator” (Source: Walker Information, Inc.).
  3. Don’t just focus on mobile. Yes, you read that right. Mobile is only the beginning of what the 3rd platform can offer. Digital is changing what customers need, expect and want. You must be prepared to deliver on all aspects—cloud, social, big data, and of course, mobile—to ensure you meet and exceed customer expectations.

The 3rd platform has arrived. It’s impacting China’s customers and it’s impacting YOUR customers. To learn more about what it takes to deliver a memorable experience in our increasingly digital world, join EMC’s Total Customer Experience Global Celebration, with onsite events around the world, live virtual event and exclusive blogs.

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