Here's a somewhat under-appreciated China story: the rest of the globalized, digitalized world can't have enough of locally made goods, thanks to the planet-wide reach of cross-border e-commerce platforms, including those based in the country.
This story is not exactly a sequel to the one about China having been the world's leading factory for manufactured goods over the last few decades.
It is not about leading Chinese tech brands such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo and Haier that are well known outside the country either.
Instead, this story is about little-known but globally successful Chinese brands and companies such as Ecovacs.
This story is also about virtual Silk Road, a digital highway that enabled China-based cross-border e-commerce platforms in multiple languages to export Chinese goods worth 903.5 billion yuan ($140 billion) in 2017 to more than 200 countries and regions, serving more than 100 million consumers.
It is about ambitious business targets: A single e-commerce platform expects to serve 1 billion overseas consumers and 1 billion domestic buyers by 2025.
Welcome to the amazing, efficient, logistically-wondrous world of Chinese cross-border e-commerce.
In this world, local brands may not boast glamour, but command reach and sales that could stoke both envy and awe in marketing giants.
Ecovacs illustrates the point nicely. The company makes robot vacuum cleaners. It is reaping handsome gains from overseas markets.
It receives orders from US consumers via Amazon, a global e-commerce titan. On Nov 24 last year, during the Black Friday shopping carnival, hourly sales reached a staggering 1,000 units. That record earned Ecovacs fourth rank among overall household product sales.
David Qian, president of Ecovacs' international business department, said: "We're building our own brand and investing 10 percent of our annual revenue in research and development. We have over 1,000 patents both at home and abroad."
Qian said Amazon offered Ecovacs helpful guidance on consumer demand analysis based on accurate data. It also imparted professional training in operations and taught market expansion strategy.
Like Ecovacs, tens of thousands of China-based vendors now sell their products globally through Amazon Global Selling, a mechanism that leverages the online marketplace's branches in 10 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan and Australia.
This helps build visibility for their brands globally. A virtuous cycle ensues: brighter brands generate higher sales; next, greater consumer expectation prompts the brands to invest in R&D and improve the quality of their products; this, in turn, encourages firms such as Amazon to launch plans like "service+", a program to impart Chinese sellers lessons in the art and science of cross-border e-commerce.
Thanks to e-commerce, small and medium-sized Chinese firms now receive consulting services for enterprise development strategy and operating model, as well as tailor-made solutions for business expansion at different stages.
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