Knowing your market is no new requirement for retailers, but coming into a foreign market can be intimidating for businesses. Zhou says the best option is to find the right platform within Alibaba and utilise the advice they can provide.
“This will make [businesses] more capable for their market. Along with this, they need to find the right product, know the audience or the target consumer and what they’re looking for and adjust yourself towards it. You also need to monitor that channel well and keep up with the proper price points for that market.”
The news of Amazon coming to our shores created an uncertainty for New Zealand retailers seeing first-hand the evolvement of the retail landscape. The arrival of Alibaba cause less of a concern thanks to our already strong relationship with China, according to Pam Ford, ATEED’s acting General Manager Business, Innovation and Skills.
“China is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and its vast population and growing middle class represent huge potential. Maggie Zhou spoke of there being 600 million Chinese in rural areas alone and platforms such as Alibaba present a great opportunity for our exporters, along with Chinese consumers increasingly looking for quality, safe, design-led products which our country has a reputation for providing.”
The value of New Zealand’s trading relationship with China has almost tripled over the past decade. China is New Zealand’s second largest overall trading partner. Two-way trade between both countries reached more than $24 billion dollars in the year ending 30 June 2017.
Ford, who has a strong knowledge of the relationship between the two countries, says there shouldn’t be a worry about international competition taking away from our own national retailers.
“On the contrary, the rapid evolution of cross-border e-commerce means that it’s easier for our exporters to take advantage of these platforms and reach millions of potential customers.”
Ford says Alibaba presents an excellent opportunity for many Kiwi exporters, along with Chinese consumers who are increasingly looking for quality, safe, design-led products which our country has a reputation for providing.
Along with the signed partnership between NZ Tourism and Alibaba in 2016, Ford says there is a range of Chinese programmes available to companies wanting to take advantage of these channels.
“Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), as Auckland’s economic growth agency, is part of the Tripartite Economic Alliance. This historic alliance, formed in 2014, is between Auckland, Guangzhou (China) and Los Angeles (U.S.A.). The alliance focuses on increasing trade and investment between the three cities and their regions – and provides a gateway to Southern China and the West Coast of America.”
Ford echos Zhou's advice to retailers looking to get involved within the Chinese market for the first time, and that is getting to know the marketplace by, “understanding it first-hand, meeting with potential customers and learning selling techniques.”
There is a strong relationship already between our two countries, with cultures combining in fashion, food, and business now more strongly than ever. Alibaba gives retailers that opportunity to reach out and strengthen their consumer base as well as that relationship.
Exert of a Maori fashion show held in China.