May 31, 2013

Considering doing business with China?

In the lead up to the Australian events for Australia China Business Week, we bring you part two of our series and reveal more of the insights discussed at last month’s Shanghai event. If you’re considering doing business with China then read on to learn more about the Chinese market.

In April, the most significant Sino-Australian business event of the year kicked off in Shanghai. Australia China Business Week arrives in Melbourne on 19 June followed by Sydney in August.

The events provide a unique platform for Australian businesses, especially SMEs, who are seeking a path to success in China, as well as Chinese entrepreneurs wishing to engage directly with their counterparts in Australia.

In part two of our series we share further insights discussed at the Shanghai event.

Power of China online

It’s estimated that the number of Chinese web users will overtake English language users world-wide by 2015, and web experts anticipate the size and volume of the Chinese online market to overtake the United States as the world’s largest soon.

The Chinese obsession with the web continues to grow, driven by technology improvements and increased mobile usage. So if you’re doing business in China, having some kind of web presence is essential.

Key considerations include:

  • Your ‘Page 1’ matters: not just the look and feel, but the language. If your consumer can’t read your page, they’ll click elsewhere.
  • Understand the limitations of the internet in China: that means no Facebook, YouTube or Twitter access. Partnering with an experienced online agency will ensure you can execute basic online media/content through the right local channels that are right for your brand.
  • Start with basics: if you have marketing dollars to allocate, first base is generally Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and language translation for some key pages.

Cultural considerations

Developing cultural ‘intelligence’ isn’t a concept that can be immediately taught. Developing your cultural know-how is a learned skill that will help you to appreciate the way things are done. Wading your way through this cultural confusion is possible once you accept, adapt and integrate your behaviours to your surrounds.

Chinese like the ‘experience’ of doing business – so expect negotiation, strong opinions and then further negotiations on elements you felt were already finalised. This is not because of a desire to go back on their word, but rather a desire for you to understand that the position they were in earlier may have changed, and for you to acknowledge this as part of a long-term relationship.

Keep in mind that, like you, the Chinese seek respect and the same successful outcome that you do.

When doing business in such a different environment, there are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Take your time developing relationships: understand what the other party is looking for and consider the full picture.
  • Don’t rush into doing a deal: think of the Chinese phrase “talk business after the third cup of tea”. Have a stepped approach to reaching your goals.
  • Understand some of the cultural differences: such as language, introductions and maintaining ‘face’. Do the same due diligence as you would in Australia.
  • Don’t burn bridges: despite its size, the connections or ‘guanxi’ (literally: relationships) businesses have in China will always be greater than you expect including those with other foreign ex-pats.
  • Plan well.
  • Be prepared for negotiation: to be used as part of building a relationship.
  • Think differently: remember that sometimes in China what someone says may not be what they think.

Australia China Business Week continues in Australia, with events in Melbourne on June 19 and in Sydney on August 28. Delegates will learn about opportunities for Australian businesses considering trading, importing, exporting, manufacturing/outsourcing and investing in the greater China region.

For more information and to buy tickets visit Enter the promo code ‘nabclient’ to receive a discount available to NAB customers only.

 Read part one of Australia China Business Week Shanghai insights