Yesterday 2,500 small and medium size businesses signed up to attend Alibaba’s Gateway ’17 event in Toronto. Joined by registrants, exhibitors, and media, 95% (over 2,000) of the business registrants were from Canada and represented all 10 Canadian provinces. The remaining registrants traveled from six different countries outside of Canada demonstrating the interest and high demand from small and medium-sized businesses to learn about China and Alibaba.
Canada population is 30M of which 1.6M are ethnic Chinese and with strong links to China. “These are the ambassadors of your products,” Jack Ma told the delegates adding “We should leverage that”.
Jack Ma, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans and other special guests shared their personal stories, lessons learned and advice on how to grow your business by taking advantage of new market opportunities in China.
This was an Alibaba-led event with have a variety of partners and associations exhibiting, including:
- Business partners: Royal Bank of Canada, Shopify
- Media partners: BNN (broadcast), The National Post (print)
- Government entities and associations: Prime Minister Trudeau and his office, and more
- 20+ Alibaba trade partners
- Agricultural associations
The morning sessions included a focus on specific verticals including: everyday Goods (inc Fashion); Fresh Food and China’s outbound rourists (targeting travel and tourism industry). The afternoon saw business solution sessions covering: Exporting to China to cover both retail (Tmall) and wholesale (Taobao Global); Exporting Fresh Food to target agricultural industry and Serving Chinese consumers from marketing to payment to target travel and tourism industry.
You can read more about the content presented at the event on the Alibaba blog
Why you should be interested in China and Alibaba’s platforms
Alibaba is getting really interesting for merchants in the West. If you’re a brand then Tmall may well be the best option for you but it comes with a relatively high investment cost in both people, time and money. In the past this was your only option, but now for smaller brands and retailers, Alibaba’s ability to broker partnerships with Chinese traders, enabling you to act as a Taobao wholesaler, gives a cost effective way to enter the Chinese market with an experienced partner.
Taobao merchants are highly experienced and will do everything from listing, handling sales, marketing on Chinese social channels including demonstrating and talking about your products in live chat broadcasts and handling all communications with potential Chinese customers.
Selling to China could easily dwarf your sales to the entire EU if you get it right. This is the second Gateway ’17 event Alibaba have participated in (the first was in the US) and doubtless there will be more to come. If you have the opportunity to attend then we would highly recommend it with your Number #1 goal being to hook up with a Taobao merchant who can assist you in entering the Chinese ecommerce arena.