Have you heard of JETRO, how about HKTDC or ProChile? These are literally free resources for businesses that are largely ignored by most American companies. I had the distinct privilege to brief a group of Los Angeles based Trade Commissioners hosted by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce on November 16th on the growing influence of e-commece on international trade, but I was the one who came away educated. I was surprised and impressed to learn how much local businesses can benefit from accessing the resources, mostly free, offered by the many trade commissions in our backyard.
Want to start a side-hustle importing custom clothes? Well, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council(HKTDC), www.hktdc.com can help you identify suppliers, even ones that will supply from 1 master carton. Talk about low risk! Want to find a business opportunity or partner in Japan, The Japanese External Trade Organization, JETRO, has a daily online matching/posting service, www.ttpp.jetro.go.jp. Not interested in Asia, not to worry, you can find trade commissions representing all regions of the world. One I found interesting, ProChile, www.prochile.gob.cl, I had never heard of their website, but Spanish notwithstanding, the site is chalked full of great contacts, particularly if you are looking for smaller suppliers.
Don’t despair if you live some distance from Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York, you can tap into most of these trade resources online. I also suggest you identify the country or countries you are most interested and search for their trade commission and just pick up the phone and call the Trade Commissioner. After all, the staff at these Consulates are stationed in the U.S. to generate more business for their respective countries.
Don’t be surprised when U.S. mainstream media extols the strong Black Friday Sales and expected record sales on Cyber Monday, but offers scant mention that these numbers fall short of Chinese Singles Day, 11/11. Yes, in a single shopping day the likes of Alibaba, JD.com and other leading Chinese e-commerce marketplaces transacted more than $60 billion dollars in sales. The good news from the surging e-commerce sales in China is just how much comes from cross border sellers including many U.S. brands. Just a few years ago the prospect of selling direct to consumers in China was implausible, but a breakthrough pilot program launched by the China Government in late 2013 reset the rules for exporting to China. The Cross Border Pilot Program established in 2013 set up7 pilot zones- meaning customs established special provision for personal imports purchased direct from foreign supplier or bonded warehouse in the approved pilot zone and established a set import fee for most product categories( roughly 11%) Cross border imports allow Chinese consumers to dramatically expand their product choices, particularly in categories where quality concerns are paramount- baby/mother, beauty, health/wellness, and food. Cross border e-commerce in China is already a $120 billion market(about 1/6 of all e-commerce sales in China) and poised to grow quickly in the coming years. While there are challenges to establishing presence on the leading Chinese cross border e-commerce platforms, many lower risk options are starting to emerge including the JD.com U.S. Select Store*. If you are not selling your products in China, cross border e-commerce might offer the platform to do so.
*JD.com has recently launched a special platform to help 2nd and 3rd tier companies launch their products through cross border e-commerce. The author has worked with the State of California, Centers for International Trade, to launch a special online registration system for companies in California wishing to be considered for inclusion on the JD.com-US Select Store. http://www.citd.org/jd-cal
Lost in the contentious political debate about Free Trade is the ever growing trade surplus in service exports. Leading the way is education exports- a $35 billion dollar a year business for the U.S. The impact of education exports is now felt in just about every community, small or large, around the United States. While more and more U.S. schools are being certified to host international students on F-1, J-1, M-1 visas, many other businesses benefit from the legions of international students coming to the United States. The spillover effect is broad and includes: automotive rental/sales, entertainment, housing rental, insurance, travel, and general services for everything from dry cleaning to acupuncture. My organization, California ETEC, a pioneer provider of international education recruitment and marketing services recently coordinated a set of study fairs for the TABS Boarding Association in Beijing, Shanghai, HCMC and Hanoi. Yes, the market for education service is especially booming for secondary education, particularly high quality boarding school programs. The above mentioned fairs included participation from more than 50 leading boarding programs from the U.S. and saw strong turnout in each of the event cities. While a U.S. education at all levels is increasingly in demand globally, the competition from English speaking countries is keen and American school dominance is under continuous threat. Nonetheless, for now, education exports, is one of the bright spots for the U.S. in the global trade arena.
Mark Matsumoto was the keynote speaker for the LA Port’s Export University Series hosted at the Greater Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Friday, October 6th. The dynamic 3 hour event drew a crowd of 60 business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to draw tips to expand their global business leveraging digital marketing tactics. Matsumoto a leading subject matter expert on international trade, international digital marketing and doing business in Asia shared a number of tools of the trade and cases studies during the interactive presentation. Some of the leading takeaways from the seminar included:
- Website Globalization Techniques
- Localization and Translation Best Practices
- Leveraging Google Ad-Words and Social Media to generate international customer leads
- The Alibaba Effect™-Understanding the international e-commerce landscape
- Introduction of new cross border e-commerce platforms, including a special promotion offer with JD.Com
- Benchmarking your competition through efficient market research collection
Mark Matsumoto, Network International Exports, Inc. founder and co-author of Exporting in the Connected World spoke in front of a packed audience at the LA Chamber of Commerce on August 22nd. The event promoted by the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Small Business and the Los Angeles Port( TradeConnect) drew more than 120 attendees who came to learn strategies to market and promote their businesses to global consumers. Mr. Matsumoto’s presentation including practical tips to develop a website, manage and optimize a website, including translations best practices, creating a high performing google ad-word campaign and developing effective blogs and social media campaigns. The presentation concluded with breaking news announcements about new cross border e-commerce platforms available for the first time to California exporters.
Attendees received a copy of Exporting in the Connected World and a preview of Matsumoto’s next book, Trading in the Connected Word, the complete guidebook for importing, exporting and conducting global e-commerce.
Mark Matsumoto, founder of Network International Exports, Inc, and Jeff Williamson, Statewide Director, California Centers for International Trade( Official California State Trade Program), hosted a seminar on August 10th in Bangkok to promote a new model linking emerging brand suppliers( beauty, food, health living, lifestyle, other) in California with prominent retail and e-tailers in Thailand. The event drew a full house including leading internet and retail players Google Thailand, Paypal Thailand, Siam Group, and emerging e-commerce start-ups. Participants unanimously agreed the need to introduce new, distinctive brand offerings, with a more demanding and informed consumer classes growing in S.E. Asia in the age of e-commerce. While cross border e-commerce is still in its infancy in Thailand, unique online selling models are rapidly changing the selling landscape in S.E Asia. Chat Commerce, a form of peer-to-peer selling, is rapidly expanding in Thailand, actually outstripping e-commerce sales of more established marketplaces such as Lazada. American companies wishing to expand sales in Asia, particularly S.E. Asia, need to take into consideration these new selling platforms.
Braving temperatures in excess of 115F in Las Vegas- nearly 120F during the drive from So. California to LV-a huge numbers of exhibitors and attendees gathered for the annual International Beauty Show/Spa and Wellness Show at the Las Vegas Convention. The International Beauty Show or IBS brings together a number of the leading beauty industry suppliers in the Hair, Nail and Skin categories and this show is now co-located with the Spa and Wellness Show. This showcase featured many major brand suppliers, up and coming brands and a plethora of private label suppliers. For the would-be exporter or importer trying to supply into this industry it can be quite confusing. It’s always best to have at least one or two industry contacts before you attend, but even without if you walk the show meticulously and with a discerning eye you can find some interesting products or product concepts. While tiring, I walked the entire show over the course of two days and left the show making three really good contacts and identifying another two or three product concepts I believe have export potential. Now the hard work- follow up with clients, follow up with show contacts and further study and organization of the reams of product literature I lugged back from Las Vegas.