April 30, 2012
By Matt Bramowicz
Business is not what it used to be.
While in the past it may have been acceptable practice for a small or medium-sized business to cater only to its native language market, it is no longer the case. From the onset, small businesses are already at a disadvantage. Whether the company relies on boot-strapping or bank loans to cover expenses, resources are extremely limited, and profits may not even be seen for years. Add on top of that a bad economy, an over-crowded marketplace, difficulty in finding local clients, rising interest and tax rates, etc., and it seems like there is no way a small business can succeed.
Since big businesses have seemingly unlimited funds, many of the problems affecting small businesses are not a huge concern for them. Besides the already established name recognition, they have the money to spend on advertising campaigns, enticing employment opportunities to hire the best workers, established business connections, investors, lawyers…the list can go on.
As the business-stage continues to expand globally, small and medium-sized businesses can easily be left out of the spotlight since bigger companies with an already established identity tend to have more experience dealing with foreign audiences. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to the rise of technology and ecommerce, a small business can have the ability to compete, even on the global scale, with their big business counterparts.
The first step to going global, however, is research. Due to the economic downturn, it’s important for businesses to choose which markets to cater to that will benefit them the most. All of the necessary data regarding a country’s Foreign Direct Investment, Gross Domestic Product, and Ease of Doing Business Ranking are available online from the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/).
Some countries are safer investments than others.
According to the latest ranking of top countries for overseas investment, China tops the list. As China continues to grow both economically and industrially, foreign investors are eagerly lining up to invest in its internal market. The United States ranks second, up one spot from last year, followed closely by India. India is widely known for its great nonfinancial, financial, and industrial service opportunities, but navigation of the business environment may be a bit tricky to those unfamiliar with their practices. Brazil, Germany, Poland, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom round out the top ten, respectively.
But success isn’t guaranteed simply because a country is ranked high on the list. Before any company dives headfirst into any new foreign market, they must be certain they are familiar with the business environment. Without proper research, the attempt can be disastrous, as each market has its own share of localized intricacies that must be taken into account.
In China it is customary to be familiar with the country’s five-year plan which helps to understand the current and future business climate. In India, businesspeople do not usually offer their advice or even disagree if they are given instructions. For their input on how a task could be done more effectively, it is advisable to actively ask what their opinions or suggestions may be. In Japan, it is considered impolite to say ‘no’ outright. Refusals are either implied, avoided or someone might simply not reply at all.
Without prior knowledge to these different business practices, misunderstandings could ensue, which could lead to some very serious problems. Therefore, as an outsider it is even more important to show respect for a foreign market’s customs for the sake of both parties involved. Information on foreign business etiquette and culture can be found on the World Business Culture website: www.worldbusinessculture.com.
As the business paradigm shifts globally, smaller businesses can utilize new technological resources to help ease them into new markets.
For the majority of foreign business transactions, all documents, business cards, presentations, etc., should be translated into the foreign business associate’s native language, as well as English, even if they can speak it fluently. It is the standard custom, and failure to do so could be interpreted as disrespectful.
While foreign business etiquette rules can be researched and adopted fairly easily with the proper resources, translating necessary documents still require more outside assistance.
In the past, translating was done exclusively by professional translation agencies and freelance translators. In today’s tech-oriented business world, however, there are more options available to help small businesses conquer the language barrier.
In the past few years, significant attention and development has gone into machine translation tools in an effort to make them more accurate and grammatically correct.
As a result, two different systems have evolved:
· Rule-based systems, where rules of grammar and syntax along with individual language vocabulary are manually coded into a computer.
· Statistical machine translation (SMT), where computers analyze millions of existing translated documents from the web to learn vocabulary and look for patterns in language.
Yahoo Babelfish and Bing Translator both employ rule-based systems, which statistically perform better than the SMT system for short texts and Asian languages. However, Google Translate, which is based on the SMT system, outperforms rule-based systems for longer texts and has the ability to easily improve accuracy as more translated documents become available on the web.
As highly developed as machine translations have become since their inception, they still are not foolproof, and therefore are unreliable as a legitimate translation tool when professionalism is a necessity. In business, everything that is put out to the public or to associates reflects on the company as a whole. Grammatically incorrect or mis-translated texts give the impression that a company either does not care about its foreign business associates, or worse, is amateur and lacks the proper skill set to run a business.
Small businesses are seeking alternatives to machine translations and costly professional translators.
A few new companies have developed solutions to help small businesses receive quality translations without breaking the bank.
One method, known as post-editing or hybrid translation, combines machine translation and human translators. Once text initially passes through machine translation, a human translator or a group of translators review the translation, making any necessary changes. This process allows for a faster turn around time as well as lower costs.
Translation Cloud, www.translationcloud.net, is one example of a program that makes use of this method. Translation Cloud utilizes its database of over 10,000 translators who connect to the system via their Facebook accounts. Users of Translation Cloud receive more accurate translations at a much cheaper rate. This method of post-editing also takes advantage of crowdsourcing, another relatively new concept that is gaining popularity.
Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have both relied on crowdsourcing translation and localization of their websites in order to reach a broader foreign market. Crowdsourcing is specifically effective when those who are supplying the crowdsourced translation are familiar with the product or company.
Smartling, www.smartling.com, is an example of a company that relies solely on crowdsourcing for delivering fast and accurate website translations. Their software allows a group of translators who were invited to work on a specific project to easily visit the customer’s website and translate whatever text they wish, directly on the site.
While these programs are more effective than machine translators at supplying accurate translations, they still cost money. A relatively new website called Ackuna, www.ackuna.com, addresses that problem by providing a completely free and open community-based platform, specifically focused on sharing translations.
Those who are in need of translation services, as well as those who wish to volunteer their language aptitude, can create a free account to either post requests or translate other people’s requests. Translations are voted up or down by other users in the community, and translators who provide accurate translations receive badges as rewards. The concept is similar to Quora, www.quora.com, where users post questions or answers on any topic to other users.
As technology advances, solutions will continue to grow. Right now, Duolingo, www.duolingo.com, is working on developing a program where its users can learn a new language for free, while simultaneously helping to translate the web through the language lessons.
For small businesses on a strict budget, any of these solutions could certainly be of great value for tackling the language barrier issue.
In the end, it is up to the business owner to determine what he or she wishes to accomplish, research the methods needed to make it happen, and utilize the appropriate resources. While the business landscape has changed in recent years, as technology continues to grow, opportunities for small businesses to succeed will continue to grow as well. It is just a matter of learning to take advantage of them.
Matt Bramowicz grew up in New Jersey and attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in English and minored in Fine Arts. He now works as the head of PR/Marketing and as a graphic designer for Translation Services USA, a startup translation and technology company located in New York City.
Translation Services USA has developed social networking applications such as Translationcloud.net and Ackuna.com.
August 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Xiu.com, a Chinese ecommerce solution that specializes in luxury goods just announced that it had pulled in 100 million dollars in investor financing from two groups. Warburg Pincus LLC and the China division of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (previous investors with Xiu who had already put $20 million into the company back in March) were the backers. A simple email statement was lacking in additional details.
The huge influx of new cash will allow Xiu to step up distribution and increase warehouse space. It also probably has something to do with the fact that the mainland-Chinese ecommerce solution quadrupled its sales revenue over the past year. Xiu.com went from 250 million yuan last year to over a billion yuan this year (about $156 million and change).
China is an proven expanding market for commerce of all kinds. Ecommerce solution Alibaba (the biggest ecommerce solution in China) does billions in business there every year. The increasing wealth of the middle class (and the rich) is leading to more disposable income there. Internet (specifically broadband) penetration is slow going right now, but is making definite headway, as is mobile phone use. Smartphone use (and the mobile commerce applications that come with that) is lagging behind, but Alibaba is looking to step that adoption up with the introduction of their very own smartphone.
Luxury goods like those sold by Xiu.com, combined with increased smartphone adoption are proof of the strong middle class and growing wealth of the world’s fastest-growing economy. China could become the world’s third largest market for luxury goods inside of five years. According to Xiu, it is China’s leading luxury goods ecommerce solution. It reportedly carries products from over 3000 brands.
That’s quite a boast for a company that’s only a little over three years old. However, given the rapid, radical growth of ecommerce companies, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. The ability to change directions quickly, scale through innovative use of technology, and take advantage of emerging marketplaces, makes ecommerce companies some of the most competitive and lucrative operations on the planet.
August 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
In the US, Android the open source OS smartphone/tablet alternative to the extremely closed system that is the Apple iOS. Based on a kernel of the Linux operating system (an open source desktop operating system which is actually being used to write this article), Android may be getting a run for its money by another Linux-based OS. Alibaba, the leading Chinese ecommerce solution, is poised to release its Aliyun smartphone in just a few days. Using an innovative cloud-based app feature, not much past the OS is actually stored on the phone proper (pictures, etc. will probably be stored, but with good cloud integration, why bother? Every initial user is getting 100 GB of storage space on the cloud).
This cloud-based app functionality is integral to the phone’s operating system. It may also be integral to the phone’s success, as it allows user to access and operate Android apps, despite not actually using the Android OS. Whether there will be a native app ecommerce solution, or if the phone will use some version of Google’s is still unknown. Despite this (or rather, because of this), a spokesperson said that Alibaba was not trying make a run at the search giant. He had the following to say about the situation:
“The OS runs on our own virtual machine that’s based on the Linux kernel and other open tools. But it is compatible with Android apps, so we’re not going up against Google directly.”
That being said, Alibaba has also invested heavily in mobile payment solutions (not an unexpected move by an ecommerce solution like Alibaba), which sound suspiciously like a competing product to go against Google Wallet. Google Wallet is still fighting for adoption in America, as well as needing the physical infrastructure in stores to make it worthwhile for users to bother with.
If Alibaba can get a serious foothold in the Chinese smartphone market, then it could pose a serious problem for Google, Apple, and the other companies poised to enter the fray. The smartphone market in China is down at around 70 million people, while the number of total cell phone users is up at around 800 million. Getting more users onto smartphones, and in turn, logging onto their ecommerce solution using those smartphones could be big money for Alibaba on all sorts of levels.
August 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Alibaba, a Chinese company best known for operating online ecommerce solutions like the consumer marketplace Taobao, has announced that it will be rolling out its own smartphone. The operating system that will power the device has been dubbed “Aliyun.” The OS is based off of using the cloud for most of its functionality. There are already plans in the works to bring the OS to other larger devices, like tablets and larger screen phones, which should be one of many red flags for competitor Google. Another red flag: Aliyun is “fully compatible” with apps and software designed for Google’s Android platform.
The first handset out of the gate will be produced by Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment Co. and retail for about $416 US. That’s a pretty penny for a smartphone, but China has seen massive expansion of both its smartphone infrastructure and smartphone usage. Just like how increased broadband access is routinely accompanied by increased internet usage and higher sales from ecommerce solutions to people in those areas.
And of course a new phone with a new operating system means multiple business deals all around. While the first handset will feature parts from Nvidia, Alibaba is already in talks with Qualcom to try to get some of its chips into future products. Beijing Tainyu is also already getting ready to roll out a Aliyun tablet in the near future too. Reportedly Alibaba is also courting software companies to get their apps pre-loaded onto devices as they roll out. Building a phone or OS, or at least partnering with someone who has, can be one way for an ecommerce solution or other business to up their conversions by having their native apps included in the phone’s initial software bundle.
The US smartphone market is increasingly crowded. Every day people buy Android phones, iPhones, tablets, and other high tech goodies in stores and via ecommerce solutions. All these providers would love to crack open the Chinese markets, one of the largest, fastest growing markets in the world. Having a home-grown competitor doesn’t make it impossible for outside tech to compete (and win!) in China, but it does make the contest more interesting.
July 29, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
How do you say “Cha-ching!” in Chinese (and in which dialect)? Zynga, whose massively popular social games are a hit on Facebook for computers and mobile devices alike, is launching its hottest game – “Cityville” – in China. Who won’t be there? Facebook. The world’s most popular social network is banned in China, a country rife with free speech issues and censorship.
The launch is made possible by cooperation with Tencent, a Chinese Internet portal. The initial launch will be through their “Pengyou” site, which has over 101 million users. This is a great opportunity for Zynga to expand their user base, which already boasts 80 million active monthly users worldwide. Jim Tang, an analyst at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co., volunteered this opinion and insight:
“Tencent’s strategy is to offer platforms with a wide variety of games and other services. They have a huge client base. If you cooperate with them, Tencent can guarantee a very large user base.”
It’s also a chance for them to diversify their revenue streams, as critics of their IPO have marked Zynga’s reliability on Facebook for revenue as a liability. That’s definitely a factor, considering that most of their money came in via purchases made through in-game ecommerce solutions. This is a popular monetization technique called “freemium,” where a game is free to play, but users have access to ecommerce solutions within the game where they can trade real world cash for virtual goods to improve gameplay.
A number of ecommerce solutions have sought to make Facebook a reliable source of income – whether they be businesses that exist solely online, brick-and-mortar stores looking to expand their virtual presence, or apps and games that need a revenue stream to continue development. But apparently Zynga feels bold enough to expand into China even without Facebook backing them up. Their Cityville game will be rebranded as “Zynga City,” and revamped to include typically Chinese elements from the nation’s history and present pop culture, all designed to make transition smooth for new users.
The in-game ecommerce solution will stay also, in an effort to draw in more revenue. Mirae Asset Securities Co. estimates that the social/mobile-game market will be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) by 2015. Getting in on the ground floor now could mean even bigger bucks for Zynga down the road – on top of the fact that they hope to make about a billion dollars when they go public.
July 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Baidu, China’s largest search engine, used to be the portal for just about any website that offered pirated music. After a six year legal battle the waters have finally calmed. The three largest music groups in the world: Sony, Warner, and Universal all joined the fight and they have finally reached a solution.
Baidu has agreed to take off all pirated music sites from their search engine, yet still keep the music free for users. That’s right, users in China won’t have to go through an ecommerce solution to stream songs. The mutli billion dollar company has decided to eat the costs on this one. The site currently is integrating over 500,000 songs into their own platform. While we in the US and Eu"bin21a cot ommunications, said:
“We’ve never wanted to stand there and thumb our noses at the recording industry. This is a watershed moment. It’s a great way for us to deliver the best possible user experience by providing free and high-quality music and brings obvious tangible benefits to all parties involved including the label, artists, and advertisers.”
Baidu posseses 80% of the internet traffic in China. Kuo also added that music search was profitable, but had never been a large source of traffic. In 2004 it accounted for 30% of the search giant’s traffic, but now it’s less than 10%. This could partly be due to there being so many more internet users now versus 7 years ago.
The company does say that it plans to offer an ecommerce solution (for a very low price) to allow users to download song onto any type of device.
June 28, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Baidu, China’s largest search engine has officially agreed to invest US $306 million for a majority stake in Qunar.com, an ecommerce solution and search engine for booking hotels, flights, trains, and package travel deals.
Baidu CEO Zhuang Chenchao revealed the heavy cash infusion will go towards Qunar’s new service development which includes mobile applications and a deeper concentration on hotel search services. Qunar will remain operating independently from Baidu and is still in consideration for an IPO, however the two companies will “cooperate in certain areas of online travel search” Baidu concluded in a statement.
Baidu sits in one of the world’s most lucrative and largest online markets for sheer user volume alone. The country boasts over a whopping 450 million users and is every ecommerce solution’s playground. While many sectors are still in their early stages of development, the potential for growth is huge.
Industry experts predict the online travel industry will be the next to take off in China in the near future as more and more consumers are beginning to use the web for their travel needs. The Qunar investment will give Baidu a stronghold in this specific market along with expanding its ecommerce efforts, as the company has been on a mission this year to do.
Baidu Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said: “Travel has long been one of the top categories on Baidu, and the number of travelers in China has been growing very rapidly, so this is a market of obvious strategic importance to us.” According to research firm iResearch, Qunar was rated as China’s number one travel site in March based on the number of unique visitors it receives daily, listing more than 11,000 air routes and 102,000 hotels worldwide.
However Baidu is not without its major competitors. China’s heaviest hitters also with leading ecommerce solutions in various sectors are companies like Tencent and Alibaba Group, both having Baidu set on their radars.
Tencent made an $84.4 million investment in Qunar rival and online travel company eLong in May, a company Expedia also holds a leading stake in. Meanwhile, Alibaba Group has been in development of its own search technology in order to compete directly with Baidu’s leading search engine. It seems the competition is encroaching on their territory but Baidu’s investments are just part of its master plan to aggressively expand further into the ecommerce sector.
May 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Walmart announced that it was working with Chinese ecommerce solution Yihaodian to acquire a minority stake in the company. The move represents another step in Walmart’s slow, steady march into China, their continued action within the Chinese ecommerce sphere, and their shoring up position in the world of ecommerce solutions across the board.
Ecommerce numbers have been up worldwide, but they have shown huge growth in China and exhibit no signs of stopping. Eduardo Castro-Wright, CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce and Global Sourcing, had this to say:
“We are excited about this investment. Online sales in China are growing rapidly and are projected to match U.S. online sales in the next few years. By investing in Yihaodian, we’re continuing to establish a presence in this important eCommerce market…”
China is indisputably one of biggest economic markets in the world, in terms of real world operations and ecommerce solutions. Walmart first entered the Chinese market in 1996 and now has 189 stores in 101 cities. They also own a 35% stake in “Bounteous Company,” a business that runs “hypermarkets” (something between a mall and a giant department store and a super-Walmart). The news comes hot on the heels of Walmart’s recent plans to roll out smaller stores in more urban US markets and focus more on their ecommerce solution.
Founded in 2008, Yihaodian is an extremely fast-growing ecommerce solution with over 75,000 products. They boast over 2000 employees and have a business network encompassing the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Their catalog encompasses everything from groceries to computers and electronics. They offer next-day service for a variety of products including toys, apparel, and kids stuff. The deal is set to be closed within the next 60 days and will be a great boon for Walmart’s Chinese operations.
Wan Ling Martello, Walmart’s EVP of Global eCommerce and Emerging Markets, released a statement that included the following:
“We are very impressed with Yihaodian’s strong management team, solid competence in distribution and outstanding service to their customers. We have been equally impressed by the fact that their values are consistent with ours. We very much look forward to working closely with them going forward.”
April 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The leading ecommerce solution in the Chinese group-buying space is definitely Lashou, with 45,000 unique visitors in January 2011. The company recently brought in a whopping 110 million dollars in Series C funding, on top of the 50 million plus dollars that it had already raised since its birth in March of 2010. Earlier funding was based on a valuation of 500 million dollars, but experts estimate that Lashou is likely worth more than a billion dollars by now.
Lashou’s success in the highly competitive Chinese market for group-buying ecommerce solutions is notable because there are over 1,000 different group-buying websites currently vying for people’s attention in what is possibly the most sought-after economic market in the world. Lashou’s early stage growth was explosive, showing annualized revenues of 150 million dollars and doubling revenues every 8 weeks, according to Richard Lim, a founder of GSR Ventures, their largest shareholder.
The world that Lashou was born into was different than the one Groupon awoke to (and subsequently pretty much dominated). For one thing, Groupon had the group-buying market pretty much to itself. When they rolled out their unique ecommerce solution with the idea “together we can all save money,” people had pretty much never heard of it before. They quickly established themselves as the first and best name in a wide variety of North American cities and even their closest competitor, LivingSocial, hasn’t been able to really catch up (though that’s changing with their partnership with Amazon).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a year later, Lashou comes to be. The ecommerce landscape they are faced with is one where international consumers are now well-acquainted with group buying. Numerous other copycat ecommerce solutions have sprung up, delivering savings in different niches, like green products and services, or moms and babies. Groupon, the big king of them all, after having been squatted out of its own URL in Australia, even tried for a launch in China (despite a somewhat insensitive and inflammatory Super Bowl commercial that featured references to Tibet, a sore topic in China). According to an unnamed source, they may have even tried to buy up Lashou back when it was only valued at half a billion dollars. When Lashou passed on that, Groupon teamed with local internet company TenCent. Groupon.cn (much like Groupon.au) is a copycat that snapped up the URL and put up their own daily deals site instead.
Incredible growth for Lashou and the thousand other group-buying sites competing for Chinese attention isn’t without its risks. The rapid inflation of valuations and funding being pumped into these companies (and American companies like Groupon and Facebook) is reminiscent of the 1990s dotcom bubble. It’s also worth noting that in order to stay competitive, Lashou has slashed their take from every deal (Groupon takes 50%, Lashou may be making due with 20-30%). If that’s what it takes to keep their lead position, then odds are they’ll suck it up and make do until they can wipe out a larger portion of their competition. The extra 100 million dollars they just brought in will help them expand and box out their enemies.
March 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
East meets West as Groupon officially brings its daily deals to China through the recent launch of GaoPeng.com. GaoPeng comes as a collaboration joining Groupon with Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s largest internet company, and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity fund started by ecommerce giant, Alibaba Group. GaoPeng will initially offer its Groupon-like deals in Beijing and Shanghai, before expanding to other major Chinese cities in the upcoming months. Given Groupon’s major success in the U.S. from its latest $950 million in funding, to leading its market in over 40 countries; this move into China would appear to be a run in the park. However, it cannot be assumed that Groupon’s success will immediately transfer into China, the company still has to play the game as the newbie in a new country, with different rules and practices. A possible key to Groupon’s success is how well it adapts to China, rather than how well China adapts to it.
For one, GaoPeng previously went live for just 24 hours in mid-February before hastily getting pulled down by Tencent. It was rumored that Groupon’s local staff supposedly jumped the gun and Tencent stepped in to shut down the servers, a possible sign that two companies have yet to make a cohesive, working partnership. In another report detailing Groupon’s effort said that the operation was chaotic and emphasized it was not Chinese run (which is problematic for a company established in China). Like so many Western companies who have come before Groupon, with the hopes to capitalize in China’s mass market of 450 million internet users, their inability to become successful comes from not learning the local market.
In the U.S., Groupon had the advantage of shaping an untapped space in the daily deal market and only had to combat with a few major competitors like LivingSocial. However, in China’s arena of 1.3 billion people, Groupon has to fight for market share with roughly 1,700 local group buying sites. Groupon’s aggressive entrance into China has not been well received as its competitors have even formed an anti-Groupon alliance, accusing the company for poaching staff from the local market (Groupon plans to hire 1,000 employees by the end of March). Couple that with other practical issues the company has to consider, like how to build an effective email database of users when so many Chinese citizens use numerous aliases, or deploy an online payment system when cash is predominantly used, not to mention overcoming its Super Bowl gaffe that urged viewers to save money rather than Tibet (and yes, the company is still doing damage control).
However, as big as the present struggle is for Groupon it may be the humbling experience the daily deal giant needs. Groupon has the money, the right partners, and a successful service, it is just a matter of time for the company to learn how to adapt and solidify its online presence in China, rather than entering a market traditionally known to be difficult for foreigners to penetrate with guns blazing.
February 22, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Alibaba.com Ltd., China’s largest ecommerce site, announced early Monday that Chief Executive David Wei and Chief Operating Officer Elvis Lee had resigned, after an internal investigation found more than 2,300 sellers on its virtual storefronts committed fraud and some 100 of the company’s sales staff were involved. Alibaba released a statement explaining its longtime chief executive, David Wei, and chief operating officer, Elvis Lee, had not been involved in any fraudulent activities but that they had resigned after accepting responsibility for the company’s “systemic breakdown.”
The resignation comes as a bit of a shock to Alibaba.com’s parent company, the Alibaba Group, who saw Wei as an integral part of its long term strategy and a valued leader. The company has confidently named Jonathan Lu to replace Wei as chief executive. Lu will also maintain his position as chief executive of Alibaba’s sister retail company Taobao.com.
Alibaba said it launched a full fraud investigation when an employee noticed suspicious activity and flagged it to the board. Alibaba.com requires would-be vendors to provide business-registration documents to set up storefronts on the site. Findings showed that about 100 members of the company’s 5,000-member sales staff helped fraudsters evade steps to authenticate their businesses by submitting fake papers, enabling those involved to pretend to sell electronic goods at attractive terms and prices. The company had seen an increase in fraud claims by buyers against certain suppliers starting throughout late 2009 and 2010, which accumulated for only 1 percent of all suppliers in that time frame. A rep for Alibaba.com declined to comment on the total amount involved, but it has been reported that the company had paid out $1.7 million from its Fair Play fund to 2,249 customers that were scammed.
Although Alibaba has been placed under the capable hands of Lu, it is still unclear how easily the company will recover from such a major management change and if it remains susceptible to more fraud. The company said it expects the management changes won’t affect its financial results but Yuanta Securities analyst Liu Yixuan said Alibaba’s revenue growth could slow in the short term as it looks to clean up fraudulent accounts. Jack Ma, the Alibaba Group’s chairman, remains steadfast about his company’s future and warns, “We must send a strong message that it is unacceptable to compromise our culture and values.”
Alibaba.com has 57 million registered users worldwide, including 14 million on its English version site. Through the first three quarters of last year, the Web site had revenue of close to $600 million — all from registered users seeking to sell goods online.
February 11, 2011
By the ZippyCart Shopping Cart Reviews Content Team
Groupon, one of the largest online group buying sites, has made plans to offer its service in China. Through a joint venture, Danny Yeung, CEO of Groupon’s Hong Kong unit says the deals will come “very soon.”
The company, which is known (among other things) for offering remarkable deals on various products and services, is fixing to expand its online sales of discount vouchers for restaurants, spas and an array of other goods and services throughout China. A smart move considering China has the most densely populated and fastest-growing economy in the world.
“We want to to dominate the market in China, says Yeung, who joined Groupon after it bought out uBuyiBuy.com last year, where he was CEO.
The company has already jump started their venture by previously hiring around 120 employees in China. Within the next three months they plan to increase that number to nearly 1,000.
Groupon plans to make its presence well known in China by strategically utilizing the $950 million it raised in previous months. They look forward to expanding the website, buying back a large portion of their shares, and squeezing out Chinese competitors like Lashou.com and Meituan.com.
In the past year, the company has been able to span the globe and increase its subscriber base of 2 million in the US to a worldwide 50 million deal seekers.
According to a Chinese-language technology news website, Donews.com, Groupon was able to set up a venture with Tencent Holding Ltd. to further root themselves into China’s culture and economy, though Groupon failed to verify the venture’s validity.
It may be just in time for Groupon to seek alternative deal seekers, as the company left a sour taste in the mouth of many people with the company’s Super Bowl ads. They showcased three ads during the game, showing Groupon making light of tragedies around the world, including one that trivializes the fact Tibetan people are in danger of losing their culture to China.
CEO of Groupon’s America division, Andrew Mason, apologized for the ads, saying they were meant in jest and not at all harmful.
“We take the causes we highlighted extremely seriously,” says Mason. “The last thing we wanted was to offend our customers.”
Don’t think this little hick-up in judgement will set back Groupon’s plans for global domination, nor begin think people will start to boycott the group buying site. The fact of the matter is that Groupon offers a service that we all desire and will always use. If there’s anything that Groupon has taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t take things at face value.
December 28, 2010
By the ZippyCart Shopping Cart Reviews Content Team
Walmart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer along with a group partners, have invested more than $500 million in 360buy Jingdong Mall, an emerging online Chinese retailer. While Walmart has not disclosed its part in the investment, Li Jing, a spokeswoman for 360buy says Walmart will act as a “strategic investor.” Analysts say ecommerce is growing at an explosive rate in China and Walmart looks to expand its presence along with it through 360buy.
According to their website, 360buy commands 15 million users and has distribution facilities in almost 60 cities. The company is expected to sell about $1.5 billion worth of online goods this year alone, up from $200 million in 2008. China already has the largest number of Internet users estimated around 420 million and according to iResearch, a firm that tracks web developments, online commerce in China could reach a possible $75 billion in 2010. Ultimately, these numbers attract a company like Walmart who want to quickly capitalize on the country’s vast numbers; however, they are not alone in this venture.
More and more U.S. investors and companies have also jumped on the Chinese startups’ investment bandwagon as the potential revenue China’s ecommerce looks to bring in is something that cannot be ignored. Chinese companies are even opting to go public in the United States in order to gain access to the broader base of capital and the distinction that comes with a Wall Street listing. Only a few weeks ago one of China’s biggest online video sites, Youku raised more than $200 million in a U.S. initial public offering. Now many other startups have followed suit, through the middle of December, some 35 Chinese companies have gone public, accounting for 23 percent of the initial public offerings in the United States, according to Thomson Reuters.
Although, even with the right financial backing, these startups have the greater challenge of competing in a space dominated by successful, already established ecommerce sites. Taobao, who is part of the larger Alibaba Group, is a heavy ecommerce giant in China with up to 75 percent market share. DangDang who’s business model is similar to Amazon, is the first Chinese ecommerce site to go public in the U.S but only has 3.7 total market share. Now with 360buy’s new financial backing, the site looks to beef up the competition as they currently maintain 14.1 percent of China’s B2C market according to data from Analysys Interntational. This deal is a smart move by Walmart, as they will have 300 stores in China, their partnership with 360buy will offer another step in their aggressive expansion into this burgeoning country.
December 24, 2010
By the ZippyCart Shopping Cart Reviews Content Team
E-commerce book store Flipkart recently announced its acquisition of social book discovery site weRead from Lulu Enterprises, Inc.
weRead is considered the largest book based social network. It provides readers a platform in which they can view book recommendations and reviews of over 3 million readers and 60 million book titles. The site enables its members to list, rate, and write reviews about the books they have read or are currently reading and share the reviews on their social networks (Facebook, Orkut, Yahoo, MySpace and Hi5).
Flipkart started off its career as an online bookstore but has since moved into new product categories such as movies, music, games, and even plans to sell software like Norton Anti-virus, Adobe, Windows and others. The site has over 7 million book titles ranging across all facets of the human life cylce (kids to adults). Flipkart currently operates from offices in Bangalore, Mumbair, Delhi, and Kolkata.
It’s no mystery why Flipkart decided to buy up weRead. Flipkart’s purchase will allow them to provide a new recommendation option for book worms to make more informed purchase decisions based on recommendations from people within their social network.
“Acquiring weRead will take out relationship with our customers to a wider plane where we will be their partner in the entire book reading experience – right from purchase to referrals,” said Sachin Bansal, CEO of Flipkart. Bansal goes on to explain how people will be able to make worry free purchases and discover a plethora of new reading material that caters to their particular interest, all in one area.
This is an obvious and very smart acquisition for Flipkart. They have now entered the realm of the social network, a network that is growing exponentially everyday. Just by making this purchase Flipkart has tapped into a market of millions of new customers, practically over night. Bravo, Bravo.