Lisa Bertelsen began the session by highlighting that China is opening up to the rest of the world, creating even more growth potential. Already the world’s biggest manufacturer, China is predicted to become the biggest market for consumer and luxury goods. The UK’s main importer, China is also a top 10 export destination for British goods.
The country’s economy resembles that of a continent rather than that of a single country
Every one of China’s seven provinces has a population greater than that of the UK, and there are more than 160 cities with a population of over one million. It is an increasingly affluent, aspirational and urban society and the people living in China have rising expectations, individualism and emotional needs.
There’s a strong appetite for foreign – especially British – products
“China wants what we’ve got,” said Bertelsen. With 700 million consumers connected to e-commerce in China and an increasing use of mobile, there are huge online retail opportunities for British businesses looking to expand into the market.
E-commerce is growing
Bertelsen explained that China’s Singles day – which takes place on 11 November each year and has become the biggest online shopping day in the world – also offers great opportunities for UK SMEs who want to expand their online presence. Chinese online shopping platform Alibaba has taken full advantage of this event: Alibaba’s Singles Day promotions brought $14.3 billion (£9.53 billion) in sales over just 24 hours – almost twice as much as last year.
China wants to change the way it does business
Rather than relying on exports and investments, China is now planning to shift to manufacturing innovation. In addition, China offers international trade opportunities in a variety of service sectors including retail, education, medicine, travel as well as financial and professional services.
In the second part of this International Trade Conference seminar, Steve Toogood shared an overview of opportunities in India as well as success factors for entering new markets.
It’s a huge market
India is predicted to be the world’s third-largest economy and largest middle-class consumer market by 2030.
Demand for UK-made products is strong
This means that being a British brand counts for a lot when trading with India.
Doing business with India is becoming easier
India’s diverse, multicultural and fast-moving economy has gone up in the ease of doing business rankings.
Opportunities to sell online are rising
India’s internet space is also growing rapidly and India’s e-commerce market is expected to exceed US$100 billion by the 2020 financial year due to increased internet activity and investments in online retail.
Tips for entering new markets
Do your research
Protect your brand and make sure you understand the financial and time commitments involved in international trade so that you can dedicate the appropriate resources to making your business a real success overseas.
Take the time to understand the market
Knowing the associated challenges, constraints and opportunities will give you a solid base to build your business. It’s also a good idea to asses the risks involved to ensure that you’re entering the right market for you. Once you’re confident that you understand the country you’re looking to trade with, you can align your offer and business model to suite the market.
Find the right partners
There’s a lot of support available to SMEs who want to expand but don’t necessarily have the knowledge to do so.
Lastly, Toogood reminded attendees to have patience – success won’t come overnight.