State of the Union: WPIC’s First Half of 2021
The first half of 2021 has been a tremendously eventful time for WPIC and all of our stakeholders. Looking back on the first half of 2021, we’re happy to say that our market predictions have played out and our investments have seen strong returns. Not only have we expanded our business, unveiled new solutions, and earned several external accolades, but on top of that, we’re also seeing our client partners thrive across a variety of sectors.
Online retail sales in China were up 24.7% year-on-year during the period from January to May of 2021, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. During June’s annual 618 shopping festival, JD.com reported a total transaction volume of roughly $53 billion USD, up from roughly $37.99 billion USD during 2020’s edition of the festival.
The trend is clear: after a pandemic bump to online retail in 2020, Chinese consumers are sticking with e-commerce. And the market is open for business.
That’s why WPIC has continued to build out its solution set—to allow brands to ride this wave and take advantage of significant growth opportunities in China and elsewhere in APAC.
Earlier this year, WPIC ranked second in Alibaba’s Tmall Global TP100 contest, an authoritative contest for Tmall Partners. The contest awarded points to Tmall Partners who operate on Tmall Global, China’s most popular cross-border e-commerce platform. Of 133 companies evaluated, WPIC had the second-highest overall score and was the only western Tmall Partner to place in the top ten. WPIC was also the only Tmall Partner to rank number one in two of nine sector categories, reflecting its strength in servicing clients from a wide range of industries.
WPIC has also earned recognition in its home market. In June, WPIC co-founders Jacob and Joseph Cooke were named finalists to EY’s Entrepreneur of The Year award from the Canada Pacific region, among a cohort of entrepreneurs from over 60 countries, all of whom were recognized for delivering innovation, growth, and prosperity that transforms the world.
Meanwhile, several of WPIC’s brand partners have also received special recognition in-market.
In June, a client was recognized as one of the top home appliance brands in China during the 2021 618 shopping extravaganza on both Tmall and JD (ranking first place and second place, respectively, over the first wave of the festival).
In addition, this past May, a client in the food space was chosen as one of the brand partners for several livestream sessions with Austin Li, China’s top-ranking KOL. The partnership is a testament to the quality of the brand’s organic snack foods, as well as the work of our operations teams to drive demand of those products in the market. This comes on the heels of the brand’s 2020 win of the Tmall Global Health award.
All of these accolades in the first half of the year come against the backdrop of WPIC launching dozens of e-commerce stores across China’s leading marketplaces, with several more set to open in Q3 and Q4 of this year.
In March 2021, we released Batch III of the China E-commerce Accelerator Program, a set of turnkey solutions to help international brands gain rapid market access in China, including activation on Tmall and JD.com. The original intent of the program, launched in the spring of 2020, was to help organizations that were negatively affected by the economic effects of COVID-19 to sell to Chinese consumers. But the program resonated with a much wider audience of companies that wanted fast activation in the market.
For Batch III this year, we worked closely with Alibaba and JD.com so that companies from around the world could launch in time for the 2021 618 shopping festival. We ultimately helped several dozen brands—across sectors such as toys, apparel, cosmetics and wellness, and food and beverage—launch in the market in under 30 days. Across WPIC’s portfolio, our clients’ in-market revenue surged by 110% month-over-month in June—a statistic that bodes well as we head into the summer and kick off Q3.
In Q2, we unveiled WPIC Creative Labs, a brand-new creative practice that provides world-class content, advertising, design and brand strategy services to new and existing clients. WPIC Creative Labs was built because of the recognition that consumers in China and across broader APAC are among the savviest in the world—and that bold, creative campaigns are increasingly necessary for brands to resonate with these audiences.
Over the past few months, Charles Lavoie, the newly-appointed Director of WPIC Creative Labs and a 15+ year veteran of the creative industry in China, has led a team of sharp brand strategists to deliver needle-moving creative campaigns covering digital, social, influencers, livestreaming, packaging, and events. Mr. Lavoie’s team helps brands localize their design and communications to meet the needs and preferences of APAC consumers, by analyzing a combination of demographic and psychographic factors.
After identifying the target audience, the team connects the client’s brand assets with relevant pop and meta cultural elements to build campaigns that drive awareness, engagement, and support differentiation.
In a few short months, the team’s work has already helped several dozen existing brand partners improve the impact of their campaigns, leading to more conversions and growing revenue numbers.
As more retail sales occur online, it is essential that brands invest in e-commerce merchandising. To meet this need, WPIC also launched a merchandising practice in the spring, appointing Justice Hampton to be the firm’s first Director of Merchandising.
A graduate of Stanford University with 15 years of experience in product merchandising, Mr. Hampton has generated more than $600 million USD in retail volume for leading global brands including Ralph Lauren, Coach, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Lululemon. Led by Mr. Hampton, the new WPIC Merchandising Team has already begun working with clients to craft strategies around product selection and promotional activities.
The WPIC Merchandising team assists brands by developing a product mix as well as determining quantities that are tailored to market expectations. To maximize the probability of success, product selection is based on a combination of factors informed by local market data, the competitive landscape, pop culture trends, and the brand’s historical data in other markets.
WPIC’s outstanding data and analytics capabilities are leveraged to understand demand trends and seasonality to consistently improve forecasting. The merchandising practice also develops and executes strategies for product presentation and grouping, special offers, and other promotional activities on various e-commerce platforms. These efforts have already helped existing and new clients significantly grow their revenue on China’s leading marketplaces.
With the launch of our creative and merchandising divisions, WPIC now boasts an even more comprehensive solution set that spans a data sciences division, warehousing and operations capabilities, e-commerce activations— and now—best-in-class creative services and e-commerce merchandising.
To help effectively deliver this solution set to our growing roster of brand partners, WPIC opened yet another new office in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province this past May. A landmark in the growth of WPIC, the office marks our fourth facility in Mainland China. The office will accommodate over 100 additional employees that will focus on e-commerce as well as advertising, design, and brand strategy services.
WPIC chose Hangzhou for this investment because of its world-leading technology talent and infrastructure, as well as for its proximity to the headquarters of Alibaba, one of WPIC’s most important platform partners.
“Not only has Hangzhou been repeatedly rated as the top commercial city in China, but there is perhaps no better city in China for high quality IT-focused talent,” said Jacob Cooke, CEO and Co-founder of WPIC, in his speech at the office’s opening ceremony, pointing to the positive influence of Alibaba and strong universities.
In celebration of WPIC’s investment in the region, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Hangzhou Committee honoured Mr. Cooke by inviting him to a special ceremony where he delivered a speech on the company’s economic contributions and the bright future of WPIC in Hangzhou.
And the infrastructure investments are set to continue. Look out for WPIC’s announcements about new a new facility that supports cross-border e-commerce and outbound logistics to other markets.
Working hand-in-hand with our teams in Beijing, Nanjing, and now, Hangzhou, WPIC significantly grew its engagements division in the first half of the year, providing a dedicated service layer for all new and existing brand partners, with new client-focused teammates based out of Atlantic Canada, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Under the direction of Vice President of Engagements Alex Palmer, the team focuses on go-to-market strategy and execution, program management, product development, and more, bringing together some of the most talented and effective e-commerce and brand strategists from across Canada.
Having honed their skills at some of Canada’s and Asia’s biggest agencies and brands, these strategists have worked on campaigns for L’Oreal, General Motors, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and many more, and their contributions are already being felt by WPIC’s brand partners.
With further appointments to the WPIC team set to take place in the back half of 2021 in both China and other markets, be sure to stay tuned to WPIC’s channels to keep up-to-date on all of the talent we’re bringing on board, as we continue to build out the most dynamic and effective APAC consultancy in the world.
Japan and Beyond
2021 has also seen several developments in Japan for WPIC, with more and more brands looking to the country for growth opportunities. WPIC has launched several stores on Rakuten and Amazon.JP (Japan’s leading marketplaces) and is helping a growing number of organizations succeed online across Yahoo! Japan and other platforms.
And with WPIC’s warehouse in Nanjing acting as a single source of fulfilment for brands— with full WMS and OMS capabilities, as well as end-to-end integration with the region’s key platforms and logistics networks— activating a business in APAC has never been easier.
If end-to-end solutions in China and Japan are not enough, keep an eye out for announcements from WPIC about future developments elsewhere in APAC, as we work to help brands fully realize their ambitions in the growing region.
Something for Consumers
Last, but not least… Something’s cooking in our global HQ in Beijing…
WPIC’s talented team of developers, designers, UX experts, and backend engineers are in the late stages of testing a consumer program that has the potential to completely open up the China market to brands from around the world, in a way never thought possible before.
We won’t give up too much information right now, but we’ll tell you that this solution leverages our warehouse in Nanjing and is built on top of the WeChat platform.
As we close out the first half of 2021 and look back on an eventful past six months, all of our stakeholders can clearly see that we’ve taken massive strides: developing robust solutions; bringing in dozens of talented teammates; opening up new facilities; and ultimately, unlocking more and more commercial opportunities for organizations around the world looking to succeed in APAC.
As for what’s in store for the back half of the year? You’ll just have to tune in to find out…