Storyblok supports your content management in China

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    The number of internet users in China is rising exponentially. By December 2020, there were 988.99 million users - a huge number on its own, but even more impressive when looking back at 2008 when “only” 298 million users had access to the internet (source). Looking at mobile internet users alone, we can see similar numbers: more than 985 million users by the end of 2020 (source).

    While being an unrivaled market with incredible potentials, outsider companies usually have an extremely hard time establishing themselves as a viable option for Chinese customers. The biggest reason why is that foreign companies usually fail to ensure proper content distribution infrastructure that in addition to a global reach, takes the particularities of China’s requirements into account. The so-called Great Firewall makes competition harder for outsiders, however by taking advantage of local infrastructure, outsider companies can get around the problem.

    Why delivering content to China is different from other parts of the world?

    The Great Firewall

    The biggest reason why managing content in China is a special case, is the series of laws, legislative measures, and technological barriers governing internet presence - collectively known as The Great Firewall.

    The Great Firewall’s purpose is to closely control the content that is available inside the country, and as a consequence, cross-border traffic is either blocked or heavily slowed down. In other words, websites without access to local infrastructure inside China, are either completely blocked or staggeringly slow (with load times going beyond the 5s threshold, often surpassing 20s).

    What makes the situation even worse, is that the Great Firewall does not have clearly set rules. This means, there is always a huge risk factor for foreign websites, as their content may be randomly blocked. You may unknowingly trigger some mechanism which blocks your content, without even being aware of it.

    Incredibly long loading times mixed with the uncertainty of the results, makes it practically impossible for foreign companies to compete with local counterparts. There is however one way to get around the Great Firewall.

    Storyblok helps you by offering dedicated infrastructure in China

    By offering a way to deliver content directly to end-users without going through the Great Firewall, Storyblok can help you deliver your content without the risk of being blocked, or slowed down.

    1. Gain access to local infrastructure

    Content is distributed globally through content delivery networks (CDN). Ideally, a CDN should have established nodes as close to the end-users as possible. This ensures lightning fast delivery, as the geographical distance between the node and the end-user affects loading times.

    In China’s case, content that is delivered from CDN nodes located outside the country has to go through the Great Firewall. This means that content delivered through outside nodes is slower both because of their geographical distance, and also because of the restrictions of the Great Firewall.

    The very first requirement for proper content distribution in China, is having access to CDN nodes inside the country - as the content will not go through the Great Firewall, but is directly delivered to end-users.

    The availability of CDN nodes located inside China is set by your CMS (content management system). Storyblok leverages a global CDN from AWS called CloudFront that securely delivers data to you and your viewers with extremely low latency and high transfer speeds inside China: A screenshot of a map showing the Global CDN nodes offered by AWS and used by Storyblok

    Global CDN nodes offered by AWS and used by Storyblok

    With multiple nodes in China (Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhongwei) your content will be delivered with guaranteed improvement in latency, availability, and security.

    2. Obtain an ICP license

    After making sure your CMS can offer you access to local infrastructure, you should also obtain an ICP license. The permit is awarded by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and is a requirement for publishing content without going through the Great Firewall.

    Having the ICP license means you can use the local infrastructure offered by Storyblok, and also make sure your content is never blocked - removing the uncertainty faced by foreign websites. Naturally, your content must pass the requirements set by the MIIT.

    Obtaining the ICP license is a one-time process and an absolute necessity if you want to operate inside China. Our specialists are always available to help you with the processes, and answer any questions you may have about the ICP license.

    Two diagrams showing the process of content delivery to Chinese users, one with CDN nodes in China, and one without

    By taking advantage of local infrastructure in China, you can bypass the Great Firewall and the huge drop in speed that comes with it.

    With no Great Firewall to worry about, start managing your content

    Making sure your content is delivered to the end-users directly, is the first step into managing your content for the Chinese market. Storyblok offers an array of capabilities that are specifically made to make your work easier:

    Localization: In addition to local infrastructure, Storyblok offers unique localization capabilities. While we offer our own internationalization tools free of charge, you can also easily integrate extra localization tools with Storyblok.

    Storyblok’s UI language can also be easily set for different users - so your content creators across the globe can do their job easily.

    Omnichannel: With Storyblok’s agile approach to content management, omnichannel publishing is as easy as pressing a button. This means, content has to be created only once, and then can be simultaneously distributed across different devices and platforms, such as computers, phones, smartwatches, digital signage, AR/VR headsets, and any IoT device. Combine this with our localization capabilities, and you can use the same content across different countries with ease.

    Customized user journeys: The headless nature of Storyblok means your presentational layer can be customized to the smallest degree. You do not have to rely on premade and uninspired templates - instead take full control of your content and optimize it for seamless customer journeys.

    Future-proof technology stack: Finally, with a best-of-breed, Storyblok lets you choose every single tool that goes in your technology stack. This is in stark contrast to the all-in-one approach usually used by traditional systems. This means, you no longer have to pay for tools that you do not need, and can scale your operations at your own pace. Additionally, you can integrate any new tool whenever you may wish to - and no longer need to wait for the provider to include it in your stack.

    Want to know more about content management for China?

    Our specialists are here to help you with all your questions - from obtaining an ICP license to content localization.