Takeaways from Alibaba Gateway ’17

June 27, 2017

Last week I had the opportunity to represent ChannelAdvisor and present at Alibaba’s first major e-commerce conference, Gateway 2017.  The event was both exciting and impressive, hosting roughly 3,000+ attendees across brands, retail, and services — all of which were looking to tap into the gargantuan Chinese e-commerce market.  This event was part of the Alibaba initiative to help 1 million U.S. business sell to China.

Gateway 2017 had a very motivating lineup of speakers.  Most notably, Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s television show The Profit and The Partner, who was able to ignite the crowd of small business owners. Marcus’s personal story and success certainly hit home for smaller businesses that may think China is simply too big of a market to tap into.

Of course, I can’t talk about Gateway’s memorable keynotes without mentioning Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group. Ma stole the show in his interview with Charlie Rose.  Some notable quotes from Jack Ma caught the attention of everyone at the event — including the media:

“Today will be terrible; tomorrow even worse; but the day after will be beautiful. Most companies die tomorrow night.”

“Amazon is an e-commerce company. We are not. We help other companies become e-commerce companies.”

Along with the impressive speaker lineup and excitement from Jack Ma’s keynote address, an event about China’s e-commerce landscape and opportunities wouldn’t be complete without taking note of some staggering statistics displayed at the event:

  • China’s middle-class population is projected to exceed 600 million by 2022, or nearly twice the size of the entire U.S. population.  In short, China’s middle-class is exploding which means more disposable income dollars for global brands to try and grab.
  • China’s consumers are shopping the world.  According to a study conducted by AliResearch, cross-border retail e-commerce spending in China is expected to grow 6-fold between 2015 and 2020 from $40B to $245B.  
  • To add some context to those numbers in regards to the opportunity for U.S. brands and retailers recent research by eMarketer predicts that by 2020, nearly 60 cents of every dollar spent online globally will come from China’s consumers.

Overall, the first Alibaba Gateway was a great success! We could go on about all of the valuable takeaways for brands and retailers looking to sell into China, but we’ll keep it to our top five:

  1. Explore the opportunity for your brand or retail business. Selling into China isn’t a perfect fit for every entity, but it is too big of a market to overlook.
  2. Have a plan and understand agile cross-border trade. Don’t dive head first without doing your research and building a market-entry strategy.
  3. For brands to be successful in China, they must be able to tell a story, focus on product quality and their image. Identifying demand and testing product-market fit are crucial to being able to scale.
  4. Find your sweet spot for selling into China as it takes a combination of three key things to find success: what consumers want in China, your products and brands and your appetite for investment.
  5.  Find partners who understand and can help you navigate the China e-commerce landscape. 

If you’re looking to enter the Chinese market, you need a partner that has the platform, knowledge, and know-how to help you do it successfully.

Through a new integration with VoyageOne, ChannelAdvisor customers can start selling on Liking, a Tmall Global marketplace that sells goods from US merchants directly to online consumers in China. VoyageOne takes care of customer service, returns, logistics, marketing and more. Fill out this form to start the process of selling your products to Chinese buyers or contact us if you have more questions about our latest integration.