Cross-Border E-Commerce Forum

Added On November 15, 2014

Earlier this week, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba vowed the world by fetching in 9.3 billion U.S. dollars during its online shopping festival within a single day.
Many retail analysts say the record sales this year show a continuous shift of consumer habits to online shopping over brick-and-mortar stores. 
This year's festival is also global as Alibaba says it has reached shoppers in more than 200 countries and regions. 
Although consumers have held their purse tight in the face of a sluggish world economy, many expect e-commerce to continue expanding across borders. 
Here are what experts say at a forum held in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The two-day Global Cross-Border E-Commerce Forum has drawn some of the big names in e-commerce, such as Ebay of the United States, Russia's Yandex and a number of Chinese online retailers. 
The top topic is how e-commerce will develop across borders against the backdrop of globalization.
More than 30 institutions from both inside and outside China have decided to established the "China Wuhan Optics Valley Cross-Border E-Commerce Industry Innovation Alliance".
The alliance is intended to boost exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign e-commerce players.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): FU QIANG, VP, Trans Network Technology Co.
"We've invited many foreign e-commerce companies to Wuhan, to the Optics Valley. No matter it is a company offering an e-commerce platform, or a small- or medium-sized trade enterprise, we hope all of them can find business opportunities here." 
Although still in its infancy, cross-border e-commerce is growing rapidly. 
The total volume of e-commerce transactions reached 105 billion U.S. dollars in 2013 and is estimated to jump to 307 billion dollars by 2015.
Companies worldwide are betting on its huge potentials, but they admit there're a number of challenges. 
David Tsai is President of the Chinese branch of Yandex, Russia's biggest search engine. 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): DAVID TSAI, President, Yandex China
"Access to the internet is rather easy around the world. But language may pose the biggest obstable for the development of cross-border e-commerce. Communication remains difficult as different languages are spok in different countreis. So we hope we can build a language super-highway, a platform that offers good translation, which can help people from different countries to better communicate. Only when language is no longer a barrier, can business be done smoothly." 
"The cultural differences are quite big, so it requires us understanding the culture in China, also it takes some amount of time. And I see one of the most important things is to find faithful partners who know the local experts or doing the business. The way to do business in Finland and China, they are very different, the business culture is different."
E-commerce has kept retail sales robust despite the slowdown in China's economy and some experts say the significance goes far beyond that.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): LI MINGTAO, China Int'l E-commerce Center
"Businesses face customers directly via e-commerce, which is drastically different from traditional retail. When it comes to cross-border e-commerce, businesses can get first-hand information on consumer demand in foreign markets. This enables Chinese companies to better promote their brands and strengthen their position in the production chain, which will help upgrade the domestic industry. So cross-border e-commerce has huge potential for growth."
China is the world' s largest online retail market, with the total revenue estimated at over 500 billion U.S. dollars this year.
And the country has around 332 million online shoppers, about the same size as the entire population of the United States.