Friday, July 9, 2010

The Chinese are invading

This week, an awful lot of my time seems to have been taken up dealing with matters related to China.

Just a few decades ago, nobody really considered China to be much more than a 3rd-world country, with subsistence farming and small quantities of low-tech exports making little impression on the world's economy.

My, what a difference a few decades can make.

Today China is a massive industrial and economic superpower, exporting huge amounts of low and hi-tech products to eager markets around the world.

A quick check of the home appliances and electronic devices around your home or office will quickly show just how much we have become reliant on this previously sleeping giant.

And now China is already taking another huge step towards filling the world with its plethora of products...

They're selling direct via the internet.

Until recently, the Chinese followed traditional business practice, selling their wares to importers around the world, who then sold to retailers, who sold to end-users. That is changing, and changing very rapidly, thanks to the Net.

I'm not here to promote commercial websites but I recently spent almost an entire day browsing the incredibly comprehensive site.

My goodness.... there is a bewildering array of products there and they're all available for purchase over the web, at typically Chinese prices.

Whether it's farm machinery, MP3 players, electronic components, metalworking machines, raw materials or services -- they're all there and all just a few mouse-clicks away from your door.

Until recently, there have been many sites that showcased Chinese products and companies on the Net but most of those had no e-commerce capabilities, simply acting instead, as a generator of sales-leads, requiring buyer and seller to transact business directly between themselves. These newer sites however, actually handle the transaction and even offer an escrow service to take much of the risk out of such purchases.

To be honest, I don't think I'd be investing in bricks and mortar retail to any degree, now that the Chinese are getting serious about making their products directly available to anyone with a credit-card and internet connection. There are challenging times ahead for the traditional whole-sale/retail distribution model, that's for sure.

As someone who's always looking for a bargain, I can see that I'll inevitably be wasting far more time trawling these websites for a good deal. Come to think of it, when I factor in the time I spend doing this, the total cost may not be such a bargain after all.

However, I think it's fair to say that the Chinese invasion is well underway. Be prepared. Go place your credit card in an ice-cream container filled with water and stick it in the freezer. That'll help reduce the chances of an unexpected "impulse purchase" while you're trawling the pages of these new Chinese online superstores".

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