The demand for good products, good service, is so powerful. … We need more American products.”
who said Taobao is her No 1 choice for shopping online because of the after-sales services. “I can see the store and talk to the owner. On other platforms, I can only call customer service instead of the store itself. This way, I feel more assured.”
Zia Daniell Wigder, vice-president and research director at Forrester Research, is optimistic about small US retailers on Alibaba, especially those who would be dealing with international customers, shipping, customs, and local currencies for the first time. She said the Chinese company can help streamline these processes because of its market dominance and vast infrastructure network.
“There certainly are differences (between US and China e-commerce), but a lot of them are surmountable issues,” she said. “Cross-border online shopping is growing incredibly quickly. It’s not just between the US and China, but between a large number of different countries. Alibaba’s opportunities in Brazil and Russia, and other places like that, have grown substantially, so they’re looking to penetrate what is the other extremely large e-commerce market in the world, which is the US.”
Michael Tudor, CEO of Ripen eCommerce, a consulting company, told Forbes last year that Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao, along with Alipay, its third-party online payment platform similar to PayPal, can help small businesses in the US “who don’t have the resources to meet the challenges of the Chinese market”.
For a small US retailer to be successful in China’s e-commerce marketplace, Kosha Gada, principal at AT Kearney’s media, consumer and retail practice, said they will need understand the market demand, build a brand, and have a firm grasp on logistics and operations.
“It’s a different market from the US, and companies will need to accurately assess the competitive landscape,” she said, warning that electronic payment is not as developed in China as in the US, raising the risk of fraud, while shipping can be a hassle due to undeveloped infrastructure outside of major cities.
Teng at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business offered one more piece of advice for US companies: Watch what Chinese tourists buy in bulk abroad. “Chinese are seeing the world,” he added. “They know what the good products are, they aren’t easily swayed by novelties.” Contact the writers through firstname.lastname@example.org