How to Implement a Successful Retail Omni-Channel Logistics Operation in Asia Pacific
For any U.S.-based company interested in expanding retail logistics operations outside of the country, Asia Pacific may be the most ideal location. Not only does the region offer more than 4.3 billion potential new customers, but the American brand remains highly popular among its residents.
To access these buyers, companies should first focus on their retail brick-and-mortar stores and/or B2B channels by establishing a physical presence and penetrating into the region prior to becoming involved with e-commerce and launching B2C initiatives.
By building physical infrastructures, company brands will become more familiar to local customers early on. In addition, companies will already have their items imported and stored at their factories, offices, or shops, so they are prepared in advance for online orders.
Shortly after creating their own websites, companies should also consider plugging into local, online marketplace platforms such as Tmall.com, a retail website with 500 million users, comprising more than half of China's B2C market alone.
As companies market their products and services, and grow their businesses in the region, they should ensure they have as much visibility into their inventory as they have into their shipments—to the point in which they are receiving real-time data and updates as if they were located in the United States.
Through visibility, companies can remove the barriers to entry into new markets, and have complete transparency into information concerning their costs, expansion, and inventory. In doing so, they will have the ability to scale out and integrate their e-commerce sites with their enterprise resource planning—a key component to successfully implementing a new retail logistics operation in Asia Pacific.
There is no doubt about it; omni-channel logistics can be downright challenging, especially in an overseas region. But, by focusing on B2B beforehand, and then establishing visibility into their inventory and shipments, companies can diversify their portfolios and compete in the global economy long term.
Hong Kong and China: Business and E-commerce Meccas
Companies planning an expansion into Asia Pacific for the first time should consider establishing their infrastructures in Hong Kong and increasing their B2C capabilities in China, as the nations offer a variety of benefits:
- Free port. The Port of Hong Kong can be accessed completely free of charge, unlike most other Asia Pacific countries, so companies can import and export at any time without any barriers.
- E-commerce is booming. China's e-commerce market is anticipated to be valued between $420 billion and $650 billion by 2020. And, Chinese consumers currently spend 25 percent more time on the Web than U.S. consumers.
- A surging marketplace. China is an ideal location for companies looking to expand market share and B2C capabilities. Currently, 90 percent of China's market share is occupied by marketplaces . And, by 2017, 52 percent of China's retail market will be B2C.
- The gateway. Due to its location near China, Hong Kong is viewed as the gateway to Asia Pacific, as countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand frequently access it for domestic trade.