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Is Alibaba Heaven on Earth for Belgian Brands?

On May 23rd, 2016 Belgium’s King Philip and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma met in Brussels. Same as last year, Jack Ma announced that Brussels is getting its own Alibaba office. A consolation prize, considering Belgium lost the ‘bid’ for Alibaba’s Benelux Headquarters to Amsterdam not that long ago. 

Still, the arrival of the Chinese e-commerce giant is welcomed by many business owners, who desperately seek to tap into the vast China market. And sure, while the physical presence of Alibaba in the Benelux will most likely bring about good things for our small- and medium-sized enterprises, it’s crucial that you take your precautions when venturing out into unknown territory, even when – dare I say, especially when –  you’re being guided by one of the forerunners of e-commerce in China. 

These last few years Western companies have been keeping a close watch on China’s e-commerce market: staggering sales numbers, year-upon-year growth, an emerging middle class that craves Western products, etc. Undoubtedly, many Western businesses will be tempted to take the bait when they are promised the heavens, thinking it will be child’s play. Because, how hard could it be? Previously one had to devote at least a year’s time and many China trips, not to mention the financial investment and the subsequent risks involved. Now you just need to upload some pictures onto the Alibaba platform and away you go, the orders will come rolling in.   However, in reality, this is rarely the case.

There are so many things that you need to consider before even beginning to sell online, but it will be your online strategy that makes or breaks your online adventure. You should also not ignore your offline strategy and many other aspects of your China venture, before tapping into this opportunity. Once you have a solid strategy, you can build from there. Of course, it also can’t hurt to seek advice from tested China consultant who would gladly help you navigate the treacherous Chinese digital waters.

Please check out the article about Jack Ma’s visit to the Royal Palace here:


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