On the afternoon of 31 May 2012, over 250 representatives of Thai SMEs filled the large lecture hall at Bangkok Bank headquarters in downtown Bangkok, excited to learn more about marketing their products on the Alibaba.com platform and finding global buyers. Thailand’s Agricultural, Automotive, Jewelry and Apparel industries were all well-represented. Many attendees traveled to the event from distant regions of Thailand.
Alibaba.com’s Manager of Global Market Development Rachel Wu began the seminar by talking about how important e-commerce is to international trade in the modern world. She also highlighted specific opportunities for Thai SMEs who are interested in using the Alibaba.com platform to export to foreign markets.
Mr. Prachya Mahacharoen, founder of P.K. General Goods Trading LP Company , a Food & Beverage exporter and 4-year Gold Supplier, shared his keys for success with the audience. He stressed that the reason for his success is not necessarily because of his products and prices, but the superior service he offers. He stressed the importance of replying to buyers’ questions on Alibaba.com quickly—within 24 hours if possible.
He also mentioned that a lot of buyers may ask for samples. Mr. Prachya recommended that, depending on the product, you offer a sample, but communicate to the buyer that they need to pay for the logistics cost. Mr. Prachya said that communication is very important. Suppliers shouldn’t hesitate to ask buyers questions because it is a great way to find out if the buyers are sincere and professional. As for buyer inquiries, Mr. Prachya recommended initial replies to be concise and not too detailed. He said that it’s good to include a brief introduction and leave the website and contact information for buyers to reach you. Do a couple of follow-up emails. If the buyers do not reply to you, you just need to turn to the other new buyers.
Apart from all the above, Mr. Prachya also talked about the marketing channels he uses. He uses both online channels (eg. Alibaba.com) and offline marketing channels like trade shows. Mr. Prachya went to France for one trade exhibition, paying 130,000 BAHT for his booth and more for his travel costs. Mr. Prachya told the audience that he didn’t get that many inquiries as a result of his trip to France. For him, Alibaba.com has comparatively been a far better return on investment. To close, Mr. Prachya reaffirmed the importance of doing your homework after you’ve received a buyer’s inquiry.
After Mr. Prachya’s informative and insightful success story sharing, audience members provided great feedback and questions for Mr. Prachya and Alibaba.com staff. During the Q & A session, many attendees raised questions, concerns and offered some helpful suggestions.
How does Alibaba.com help with product ranking and exposure?
Does Alibaba.com have any system to verify buyers so that suppliers avoid dealing with fake buyers?
If suppliers detect fake buyers on Alibaba.com and report them, will Alibaba.com deal with these reports?
How much money do buyers have to pay to join?
Do you ban certain countries (such as Nigeria) on Alibaba.com?
Do you have any success stories from free members?
One attendee suggested offering premium subscription on a monthly basis.
For a full transcript of the Success Story Sharing and Q&A session, Q&A.
Some Highlights from Alibaba.com Responses:
1. One of the most important benefits of Gold Supplier—if not the most important—is the authentication and verification requirement that helps buyers trust suppliers better. We have a 3rd party verify Gold Suppliers which requires money and time. If you try one month and then decide to quit, it is not worth this investment of time and money in verification.
2. It takes time to build your online storefront and post products. It is a process of learning.
3. Free membership is actually available for everyone to try. You can display up to 50 products for free and get incentives for doing so. If you want greater success and more powerful online marketing tools, then you can consider the investment in Gold Supplier.
For all the questions and answers, Q&A
A major problem facing SMEs that are struggling to grow is financing. How can these businesses secure the money they need to get going? Bangkok Bank discussed this issue and concluded the seminar with a presentation on how to manage risk with International Payments.
The seminar was a great opportunity for established SMEs and hopeful entrepreneurs to get advice on e-commerce, online marketing, online payments and global trade. The Q&A produced a lot of thoughtful input and questions from attendees as well. Thank you to all attendees, Mr. Prachya of P.K. General Goods and Bangkok Bank!
Don’t miss our next seminar!