Dori López (Innova Digital Export): «The Chinese market represents more than 50% of all global e-commerce»


Innova Digital Export is an agency specialized in global digital export. Its objective is to help other companies to develop their business internationally through the Internet. They define themselves as experts in the creation of personalized strategies in the world of digital innovation and specialists in the Chinese market.

To get to know its work a little better, we interviewed Dori López (Albacete, 1985), its CEO. She will talk to us about international export processes, the support they carry out from the agency, sales in the Chinese market, etc.

Hello, Dory. First of all, tell us briefly what Innova Digital Export is

Innova Digital Export is a international digital marketing agency. That is, we help our clients to export and transform their businesses using the digital channel. Therefore, we are not only a communication agency, but we have become a strategic partner that analyzes the company’s global strategy: its international distribution channels, logistics, taxation & fees, legality and, in short, all those areas that , in a chain, make a project successful beyond our borders.

What are the steps to follow to internationalize a company? How long is the estimated time that the process usually takes?

At IDE we have a mantra: “there is no coffee for everyone”. Each project is unique, and will depend on factors such as the competitive difference of the product or service to be marketed, the position of the company in the value chain (manufacturer vs. distributor), the target market or the current positioning of the brand, for example. exemplify some variables.

There are two fundamental keys for a project to be successful:

Define an appropriate strategy. Measure and pivot on the route constantly.

These two factors are key because achieving real success in a digital internationalization project is not exactly a sprint. Patience and trust in the process is necessary. A roadmap must be established that measures results and sees that we are on the right track, since in most cases the break-even point of an unknown brand in a new market will not arrive until after 2-3 years (and in third markets such as China we can speak of up to 3-5 years), although a positive ROI on marketing can be achieved within a few months of launch… Therefore, first we must define the strategy and mark exactly when we believe these dates will arrive key code. And then… measure and pivot continuously. Trust the process.

What is the accompaniment that you do to companies for their internationalization?

We first make a personalized study to define the recommended strategy that I was talking about previously. This translates into a series of documentation that will serve as a “roadmap” for the project: P&L, schedules, cost schedules, etc. Once we have shared and verified this roadmap with our client, we accompany him month by month in the execution of the project, always measuring results and pivoting on possible incidents or imbalances with respect to the initial estimate. We are an outsourced marketing department, We take care of the integral management of the projects.

Your specialty is the Chinese market, why did you decide to specialize in this market? Do you have an office in China?

Yes, we have our own native team, both in Spain and in China, where we have an office in Hangzhou. It is the city where Alibaba is based and a kind of “cradle of ecommerce”, very close to Shanghai.

5 years ago we began our collaboration with the Alibaba group and then came the specialization in the Chinese market for different reasons. In addition to the economic revolution (rather than evolution) that it has undergone in recent decades (China has advanced in decades what other countries have taken centuries), this market represents more than 50% of all global e-commerce. In 2020, more than half of retail purchases in China were made online (with a mobile device), and it is already home to more than half of the global middle class.

Even taking into account the latest lockdowns suffered in China, it is an economy that continues to grow and its progress in digitization and artificial intelligence, among other areas, is simply unstoppable.

Until now, many companies trusted to buy from China, but today there are not a few that trust to sell to China, and since this will be in a digital channel or it will not be, our company has specialized in achieving it, always counting on authentic professionals in the market.

What benefits does this market have over others?

Although it is a much more complex market in principle than a western one, where digital channels are already known (Google vs. Baidu / Instagram vs. XHS), China is worthwhile for many reasons, which I mentioned earlier. There is opportunity in some sectors and in some channels that are about to be exploited by Western brands. For example, health sector (vitamin supplements, healthy snacks), male cosmetics, maternal and child, etc. The brands that decide to make a firm commitment to China in the digital channel by taking advantage of one of these opportunities and have enough patience to position their brand in this market will reap the rewards in spades.

On the other hand, China has a model called “cross-border electronic commerce”, by which a foreign company can market its products through the Internet with a series of not insignificant advantages compared to a traditional export, for example:

The figure of the importer is not necessary. Taxation is special (the only rate is usually VAT and reduced). Market with the original packaging. The margins of each sale are usually much higher than in other models.

If we “match” between the first reasoning and the second, there is a clear opportunity for the right companies.

It seems difficult to gain a foothold in a market as saturated as the Chinese one. What advice would you give our audience, who have a B2C business model, to stand out?

The company must have enough financial lung to establish a long-term strategy since, as I mentioned earlier, the break-even point in a market like China usually arrives later than in a market that is closer or easier to approach, and a strong investment in branding is usually necessary that support the sales channels.

We have to be realistic on this point and, of course, in having a product that is really competitive and profitable in the market. So my first recommendation would be learn and learn about the ecosystem in the Chinese market and commission a strategic study from a specialized company.

In other words, in China more than in any market it is necessary the proper definition of the strategy as a first step.

What would you say to our ecommerce audience to convince them that they should sell their products on a marketplace?

No argument too complicated or special. Because almost everyone who is dedicated to this or has certain notions of digital knows that More than half of Internet sales today are made through a marketplace. Therefore, although it always depends, as I mentioned before, on the product or service to be marketed, it is not necessary to convince anyone because it is a fact. In fact, in China, a digitally much more advanced market than Europe or the US, sales on the marketplace are not more than 50%, but more than 90%.

In most of our projects, the marketplace is used to capture and ecommerce to build loyalty. In 2016 in certain product categories, Amazon overtook Google as a search engine. Therefore, selling on the Internet, in most projects (except for niche or exceptions), goes through selling on marketplaces as the first step.

Which international marketplaces do you usually work with? What is the support you give to brands for the sale of their products on these platforms?

In the West B2C especially, Amazon, since it has the overwhelming market share. Although certain products require an Aliexpress or vertical marketplaces as an alternative or support. In this sense, we have a free directory with more than 3,000 platforms available to anyone who wants to know “alternatives to Amazon”.

In China, JD and Tmall.

In B2B as a global general portal, And then we work with other vertical or specialized platforms in a specific market, such as ImportFood in China or Rangeme in the US.

You tell us that you have a group of brands that are very loyal to your agency, what are they?

At Innova we work with brands such as Laboratories Valquer, Paco & Lola, Martín Códax, Filipinos, Granja San Francisco, Tarrago either globalrelax, among others. In the business world it is often said that “if you don’t have any dissatisfied customers, you don’t have any customers”. However, in relation to your question, our goal in the company is clear: the customer, happy and at the center. We work with loyal clients with whom a good feeling and trust are a must. If not, the project is meaningless. And this year we can already boast of having more than 100 clients and very very very few dissatisfied 🙂

quick quiz

What is the first social network you open in the day? I play two bands: Whatsapp and Wechat, its Chinese counterpart. iOS or Android? Android on mobile, Mac on desktop. My colleagues already want to transfer me from mobile to iPhone, but I am the resistance. (I grew up with Linux). App or website? Both and omnichannel. In which eCommerce and how long ago did you make your last online purchase? In Decathlon, today And what was it? Sportswear, since it is my main recipe to control stress… just and necessary. They prepared my order in 10 minutes and I picked it up with the car (click&collect). For non-commodity products I love to buy in small, local and authentic e-commerce, if the reader of this interview likes to read, do not miss this argument… you will not buy books on Amazon again. Last book read? I always have several on the wheel…too many actually. On a professional level, I recommend the latest book by my friend and reference Roberto Canales, called “Agile concepts applied to the different areas of the company” / On a personal level, I am reading “The song of Achilles”, a novel that one of my colleagues gave me for my birthday. Recommend us a fiction series. Well, I’m not going to tell you “Severance”, because it’s on Apple TV and it’s fashionable as an answer… I love the profiles of the stoic entrepreneur, a bit of a moron and unattainable to discouragement that are reflected in the Paquita Salas series or the most recent “Minx”, which deals with the launch of an erotic women’s magazine in the 70s. What do you like the most? like to do that has nothing to do with digital? I am passionate about reading everything and on paper, which is much more romantic. Traveling and getting away alone; many and without prior planning. And, above all, above all, above all else, I love wine. Let’s spin a magic chain: Which acquaintance of yours (from another company) do you think we should interview? I am going to refer a client that I usually mention in talks: Iván García, from the company Globalrelax. I usually use them as an example because it is a multi-language digital native company where in a team of very few people they are managing to export to the whole world at the click of a button. We are currently working on reducing dependence on Amazon and promoting its own ecommerce, it is working, and I think it is a very interesting process that can and should be explored in depth in media such as Marketing4Ecommerce.

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