Here are some of the inspiring points that he made:
“Everywhere I went, whether it was India or Southeast Asia or Africa, I saw a common trend – which is that pioneers all tried to apply either the eBay or Amazon model. Even Amazon tried to apply its US model to the China market.
The problem is that to build an Amazon – especially on the original model from the US that was more inventory-led – you need scale and efficiency, both of which are very difficult to get in the early stages of ecommerce in an emerging market. So for example in China, Amazon wanted to apply the US model through their acquisition of the local player [Joyo], but it was difficult because you didn’t have efficient logistics and payment yet. For Amazon to try and manage everything in the whole purchase process was just too expensive.”
“In China there’s a saying – “It’s better to be the head of a chicken than a tail of the phoenix.” That means entrepreneurs would rather run their own business, even if it’s making ball bearings, than be working as a middle manager in a big company in China. I see the same thing in India in the spirit of the kirana [small store] – owning a little shop, charting your own destiny, that was the spirit in China of the early ecommerce users.
The big brands and retailers didn’t focus on ecommerce because they looked at this data and said, “If only 1 percent of products in China are bought online, why bother? We’ll just stick with the traditional retail.” So it was the scrappy entrepreneurs who made ecommerce work in China through really a C2C model.”
Read the rest of the Tech in Asia article here.
Porter Erisman is an entrepreneur, e-commerce consultant and award-winning filmmaker with more than 20 years of experience in China.
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