After our book tour, and a string of recent wins, we’re proud to say that ExportNow has been receiving increasing attention in the news. In addition to features on USA Today and BusinessWeek, which we’ve previously covered here, we are very pleased to be getting coverage in the Chinese media, in addition to the US media.
Today’s roundup includes some of the various Chinese websites that have joined us in our journey to help bring US Businesses into the world of Chinese shopping online.
Though our western readers may be less familiar with media sources from China, we feel it is important to recognize and give thanks where due, regardless of the language the thanks is given in!
We are grateful to the Chinese media for their interest in our mission, and in the broader international economics and cultural dynamics at work behind our cooperation with T Mall. We take our business very seriously, and appreciate it when we are able to help bridge cultural barriers, and introduce some of the best parts of western culture to a country whose economy and infrastructure are developing at such a rapid clip. So, to all of our Chinese readers out there, 感谢各位！
If you are interested in getting your products in front of the eyes of the biggest online marketplace in the world, or have been thinking about Export to China as a strategic move for your business, please drop us a line here. We’d love to chat with you!
Industry Report: Alibaba on the Rise While Google and Amazon Wage War at Home
Export Now | Industry Report
Anyone wondering about the future of E-commerce in China doesn’t need to look far to see emerging trends, and massive market growth. Die-hard followers of news in the export industry will already be aware Alibaba.com is China’s largest eCommerce portal. What they might not be aware of yet is the fact that Alibaba.com’s sales are set to outstrip both Amazon and eBay this year. Amazon and eBay combined, that is.
While eCommerce wars rage at home between giants Google and Amazon, massive online markets continue to develop and mature in China.
Trying to stave off the competition from Amazon, Google has recently changed Google Shopping to require e-commerce companies to pay to be included in shopping results, so product listings are now ads. Inclusion used to be free. If a company does not pay to be listed, consumers will not see what they have to offer.…
ChannelAdvisor, a marketing firm for e-commerce companies, said that among the hundreds of retailers it manages, 63 percent have begun paying. For those sites, revenue per click on a product listing has tripled. One, ToolKing.com, an online hardware store, said traffic from Google and the number of people who make purchases had both risen more than 50 percent.
Will this ruffle feathers over at Amazon? You bet it will. If paid listings on Google get results like this for online vendors, you can bet Amazon will be firing back with a response of their own in short order. Media and PR firms will be on the story like their lives depend on it, market shares will shift around, but the size of the market will remain the same. Guess where the size of the market is continuing to balloon?
That’s right. Over in China.
Zeng Ming, the chief strategy officer of the Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, told reporters this weekend that the firm’s sales this year will be greater than Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) combined.
Ming also said that the company is aiming for 3 trillion yuan ($473 billion) in annual transaction value from its Taobao e-commerce units on average over the next five to seven years. The Taobao unit’s sales for 2012 are expected to hit 1 trillion yuan this year, company founder Jack Ma said last year. Alibaba does not how much Taobao contributes to the top line, but Taobao is the main retail brand of Alibaba Group.
So if you want to give paid listings in Google a shot, or wait to see how Amazon responds, go for it. Maybe you’ll see your revenues go up like the source quoted in the FT article above. However, if you are a long term thinker and have a macro level perspective on the industry, you’ll see Alibaba as the new gold standard. As the bread and butter of the future of online commerce.
As the legacy online giants in the US go to war over market shares and try to exclude each other from the search engine rankings, lesser known and grander opportunities abroad become more and more appealing.
If you and your company have been considering expanding into into the Chinese eCommerce space, feel free to check out additional informational posts on our blog, or drop us a line and speak to one of our Export Now specialists.
Export Now has been featured in the news recently on both Businessweek, and China Daily. We are extremely proud to be at the forefront of small business expansion into China, the biggest market in the world, at present.
Here’s what we’ve been up to behind the scenes lately.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Small Business
Lavin’s connections are helping him build a new kind exporting business. Export Now (it shares his book’s title) is a middleman for U.S. manufacturers that want to sell their consumer products in China. Headquartered in Akron, not far from Lavin’s hometown of Canton, Ohio, the 15-person business handles the headache-inducing back-end work for its clients, from customs clearance to trademark registration to order fulfillment. Lavin says Export Now, which also has an office in Shanghai, is backed by “a few million dollars” in equity capital.
Rather than negotiate with retailers as a traditional distributor would, Export Now posts product descriptions on its storefront on Alibaba Group’sTmall.com, an Amazon (AMZN)-like shopping colossus in China that is adding more foreign retailers as demandamong its nearly 500 million registered users increases for U.S.-branded goods.
China Daily USA
The idea for Export Now arose in December 2010 after months of talks with Alibaba Group, China’s biggest e-commerce provider, through Tmall.com and Taobao, another online shopping site.
“Tmall.com shares a common objective with Export Now, which is to enable a more-rewarding trade experience through e-commerce and provide access to a wider selection of high-quality and authentic products, be they domestic or international,” Alibaba spokeswoman Florence Shih said.
A surge in demand for US brands through Tmall.com, she said, reflects Chinese consumers’ increasingly sophisticated demand for high-quality goods and services.
Here at ExportNow, we hope to make the Chinese market more accessible to small business everywhere. If you are a small business considering pursuing expansion into China, please don’t hesitate to contact us here, or check out our book here.
Export Now Webinar held on June 28:
How to Build Export Sales with
Break-through E-Commerce Solutions
Export Now’s CEO Frank Lavin presented an exciting webinar on how to build
new sales channels through E-Commerce.
In China, there is a hunger for all things American — and U.S. businesses, small and large, are taking note.
According to the U.S.-China Business Council, the Chinese spent $104 billion in U.S. exports in the last year — up 542 percent from 10 years ago.
In China recently, Oscar Atkinson, a CEO at Silicone Arts Labs in Memphis, Tenn., visited with potential partners in Beijing and then went to a medical trade fair in Shenzhen, shopping around his company’s new skin concealer product called Dermaflage.
…But other U.S. entrepreneurs like Lion Brand Yarn in New Jersey have found another way to reach the masses in China — through Export Now, an Amazon.com-like business that helps small- and medium-size U.S. businesses sell to Chinese consumers.
“Much like customers in other parts of the world, Chinese customers are often skeptical about the quality of Chinese-made products,” Export Now said. “U.S. products … are getting more and more welcome in the local market.”
The company, which sells everything from flip-flops to T-shirts and skateboards, said that 370 million Chinese had logged in to shop for U.S products on its website so far and that last year the site had sold $60 billion in U.S products.
4/16/2012 – 4/20/2012
Michigan consumer goods companies interested in reaching new customers in the fastest growing economy in the world have an opportunity to take part in a new exporting pilot program which was detailed in four informational forums that took place around the state in April. (Frank Lavin, Export Now founder and CEO, in photo)
The Export Now informational forum schedule was:
• Monday, April 16 – 2-4pm, Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit
• Tuesday, April 17 – 8:30-10:30am, Rapid Central Station, Grand Rapids
• Wednesday, April 18 – 10am-noon, Lansing Regional Chamber, Lansing
• Friday, April 20 – 8-10am, Four Points Sheraton, Saginaw
State of Michigan to support businesses that want to sell to Chinese consumers
Businesses across Michigan can reach new customers in the fastest growing economy in the world under a new program launched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In partnership with the export-services company Export Now, MEDC will help consumer-product companies in the state sell their products directly to Chinese consumers on the world’s largest e-commerce platform.
The innovative program is the simplest and most effective way Michigan companies can attract customers in China.
A CBS Detroit report about the initiative quoted Doug Smith, senior vice president of MEDC, about the new opportunity this program provides to businesses in the state. From the article, Wanted: 100 Michigan Firms With China Dreams!
“We’re the first state in the country to be doing this,” Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Senior Vice President Doug Smith said during taping of “Michigan Matters.” “From our standpoint, it’s an exciting way to test the Chinese market,” Smith added. “With currency exchange and other costs, you will never be able to get into the Chinese market any cheaper than this.”
Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now, said that the partnership with the State of Michigan demonstrates the crucial role exports play in economic development. “New customers mean more sales and that translates into jobs,” Lavin said. “Through our unique e-commerce solution, we eliminate the challenges of language, culture and regulation that prevent many small businesses from entering new markets.”
Chinese online luxury shoppers can now buy beauty and food products by subscription. Bringing this sales technique to the Chinese e-commerce market, MyLuxBox.com sells subscriptions to patrons who receive a new box of luxury goods each month.
MyLuxBox.com recently received attention from Tech in Asia for its offerings, which include a “beauty box” of high-end cosmetics and skin-care products geared toward both women and men, as well as a “taste box” (an array of dessert snacks).
Cosmetic and food products aren’t all that MyLuxBox.com offers. Each box comes in a stylish package and presents multiple products in small amounts, allowing the consumer to experiment and chose which products they like best. MyLuxBox.com sells the image of beauty along with their luxury products, emphasizing both quality and aesthetic appeal.
The company says it has over a quarter million registered users, with 10,000 subscribers from across 300 of China’s cities having a box delivered every month, and a growth rate of 30% per month.
With seed funding that included a US $400,000 investment from the ZhenFund, MyLuxBox.com may soon have series A backing. That would put it closer to a more established competitor, the Chinese lingerie e-tailor La Miu. This year La Miu is expected to close a round of tens of millions of dollars in new financing, building upon its 2009 series A funding that amounted to about US $5 million. La Miu has added a new line of outdoor wear that is designed and manufactured by the company. The company sells its products on a B2C platform that functions as a high-fashion online mall.
La Miu and MyLuxBox are building e-commerce businesses in part on the quality of their product presentation. American exporters that enter new markets start with the advantages inherent in a foreign novelty. There are several ways to build on that strong foundation. Drawing from the successes of Chinese companies, American exporters can make sure their offerings compete favorably with the in-store experience by providing stylish packaging and a rewarding interactive experience. Exporters seeking to increase sales recognize that while substance is important, presentation is equally significant.
In the wake of “Linsanity” (or Lin fengkuang) and Li Na’s continued ascent to the top of women’s tennis, China’s attention to sports has increased sharply. The international prominence of these athletes is changing the often self-imposed stereotype that China’s athletic success is limited to individual, Olympic-style athletic competition and has raised questions about the merits of China’s institutionalized, drill-oriented sports training system.
(In fact, had Jeremy Lin grown up in mainland China, he would most likely not have been selected to attend one of China’s basketball development facilities given that his height of 6’3’’ falls well short of the preferred height of 6’6’’.)
More and more young Chinese, inspired by the success of these ethnically Chinese sports superstars, are picking up basketballs, tennis racquets, and a host of other sports equipment as foreign leagues continue to compete to win the attention of 1.3 billion potential athletes and fans. This increased demand, coupled with the shift in perception of China’s ability to compete in sports outside the Olympics, badminton, and ping-pong has raised the hopes of foreign athletic apparel companies.
Looking to take advantage of this change in consumer preferences, Nike – which has been in the country for over 30 years – has released a series of web videos targeting female consumers. The brief advertisements feature female college athletes talking about their dreams to become professional athletes, dancers, and yoga instructors.
Nike hopes that this appeal to female athletes will continue to encourage women to participate in sports at all levels, and of course, buy the top-of-the-line Nike apparel associated with these activities. Companies like Nike are in a challenging position. In order to sell their products, they first need to create demand. That means selling the activity associated with their products. With the help of successful Chinese athletes, this task is a little less daunting than it once was.
Even companies in non-sports related industries are utilizing the success of ethnically Chinese athletes. L’Oreal, the second largest cosmetics company in China behind Procter & Gamble, became the official sponsor of the Shanghai Rolex Masters Tennis Tournament in 2011. The tournament was watched by over 10 million people in China, giving L’Oreal an incredibly popular advertising platform
As sports continue to gain ground in China, at the urging of companies like Nike and thanks to star athletes, expect more attention to Chinese sports leagues and greater participation among athletes at all levels. This creates opportunities for companies of all sizes, sports related and non-sports related alike, looking to tap into the rapidly growing Chinese market.
American exports are expected to rise faster than imports over the next five years, with exports to China expected to grow at an annual rate of 7.1% according to an HSBC Bank forecast. Imports from China are expected to grow at a rate of 4.3%.
Many cities and states are seeing exports grow at a much faster rate. As more regions recognize the economic benefits of exports and take steps to encourage global trade, those area will enjoy the steepest growth rates.
Companies in Illinois boosted export revenues by 29% last year according to the International Trade Administration. The state’s largest export category was machinery, which brought in $17.8 billion in revenues for 2011. The Chicago assembly plant of Ford Motor Company is just one of many beneficiaries of this increase in exports, which were mostly sold to buyers in Canada ($19.2 billion), Mexico ($5.7 billion) and China ($3.9 billion).
Texan exports rose by 21% last year, pulling ahead of all other US states. Texas export revenue totaled $249.9 billion. As with Illinois exports, most Texas exports were sold to buyers in Mexico, Canada and China. The Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area alone sold exports that totaled more than $65.8 billion in 2009.
Ohio is also among the states that have ramped up export revenues in recent months. According to the Dayton Business Journal, Ohio companies boosted their export revenue by about 12% last year. The Cincinnati-Middletown metropolitan area exported $15.5 billion worth of merchandise last year, nearly doubling the export revenues of the next best Ohio metropolitan area, Cleveland ($8 billion). Ohio’s exports went mostly to Canada, with Mexico and China trailing close behind.
Not only are US cities exporting a plethora of profitable merchandise, but companies across the country are exporting to essentially the same markets. If these impressive increases in export revenues show anything, it’s that these foreign markets are not saturated and have great potential for more American companies interested in exporting their products.