Over the past few years I’ve seen plenty of healthy debate among small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs about the impact of ‘China’; more specifically, the ability to import a huge range of China-made products at low cost in order to sell them locally. Sites such as Alibaba and DHGate are examples of online marketplaces which allow business and buyers resellers to directly contact suppliers in China, and easily purchase bulk quantities of goods at a low cost. It’s worth noting that many of the suppliers, particularly on Alibaba, are more than willing to customize products to any requirement if the order is large enough.
Shown above is Alibaba’s ‘Buying Request’ interface – another tool to revolutionise business. Instead of browsing supplier catalogues for products, buyers can post the exact details of what they want and the right suppliers will respond with a quote. A few weeks ago I had an idea for a small ‘retail’ style venture I wanted to explore; posted a buying request, got a sample product express posted, tested the product and made an order – all within around 48 hours.
Even a decade ago this would’ve been impossible – recent developments across global technoscapes allow for faster and more content-rich communication with just about anyone, anywhere. It’s thanks to these developments in communication technologies that platforms such as Alibaba are so popular among new business owners and entrepreneurs. Developments and changes across several of the other ‘scapes’ can also be observed when using these platforms: prominently mediascapes and ideoscapes. When trawling through endless lists of new products available from suppliers in China, I find that many of these products have clearly been developed in response to western trends in popular culture. This aspect of Chinese manufacturing can be attributed to the infiltration of western mediascapes into Chinese culture and allows for these companies to quickly develop products tailored to the needs of their buyers. Prior to this, it would often take a long time for companies to cotton onto these trends, or buyers would simply have to request for a certain product themselves.
Changing ideoscapes can also be observed within Chinese business. In the past, Chinese companies often had a bad reputation overseas in regards to their customer relations or the quality of the products they produced. Among the aspects mentioned earlier, this also seems to have changed entirely and I often find Chinese suppliers more pleasant to work with than their Australian competitors! Another example of how globalisation can allow for one culture’s ideas and tropes to be heavily influenced by another in a positive way, opening a range of new opportunities.