CAPITALIZING ON THE EMERGING B2B BOOM IN ASIA

B2B stands for business to business. A B2B service thus involves a business creating products or services for another business for commercial purposes. An example would be the food manufacturing industry purchasing sugar from retailers.

The B2B businesses have managed to thrive in Asia despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Other continents’ businesses went under due to the measures taken to combat the virus such as enforced lockdowns and curfews. The question then becomes what can be done differently so that B2B enterprises can succeed despite tough economic times.

The article is going to cover some tips on how to run a successful B2B in Asia, why Asia has continued to enjoy the B2B boom, examples of Asian B2B enterprises, and what the rest of the world can learn from Asia.

Tips to run a successful B2B service in Asia

Build a rapport- you may have the right products imported for Asians but if you fail to bond with them, they will not do further business with you. For them, it is not about buying the product and leaving but also interacting. The friendly relationships you develop will lead to more referrals.

Consider the digital media mostly used- there are mainstream platforms like YouTube and Google but for Asia, the online platforms differ. Some Asian countries have their social media platforms so it’s vital to understand each country’s regulations concerning the digital space of each country. For instance marketing via Facebook in China would not work since the Chinese government only allows their social media sites like WeChat.

Learn some of the Asian lingos and languages- there is a difference between American English and Western English. Using Western English to market your B2B service in Asia will be disastrous. To communicate effectively with the Asians, you will need to understand some of their lingoes. For example in Singaporean restaurants, use the term “tabao” instead of “takeout.” There are Asian countries such as China that do not speak English. Learning Chinese would thus give you an edge if you want to do business with China.

Why Asia has continued to enjoy the B2B boom

After learning a few tips on how to run a successful B2B, we need to understand what Asia has done to be successful in this regard. Here are reasons why Asian B2Bs continue to flourish:

Eagerness to digitize – If you are a fan of Asian music, then you may have heard of K pop. K pop refers to Korean popular music. One way, they have made great success in the B2B sector is by selling their music on digital platforms like YouTube. Relying on music concerts limits them because only fans will purchase their music. If they however market their songs online, there is a chance record labels will spot them. K pop record labels can then sell their music to foreign record labels and vice versa.

Government support- B2Bs have been able to meet their clients through digital platforms. China has committed to supporting digital media by implementing tech-friendly policies. The policies have enabled B2Bs to use the digital platforms without any fear of being locked out of them. Some countries intentionally block access to certain websites and this would hinder the growth of B2Bs relying on such platforms to succeed.

Examples of successful Asian B2Bs

Below are some of the B2Bs that have boomed in Asia:

  • Trustana (Singapore) connects buyers and sellers in the food industry. 
  • Zilingo (Singapore) connects buyers and sellers in the fashion industry.
  • Ralali.com (Indonesia) connects buyers and sellers who trade in wholesale products.
  • EC21.com (South Korea) connects SMEs with trade support services.
  • Eezee (Singapore) specializes in trading industrial hardware.
  • OfficeMate (Thailand) a leading supplier of office supplies and furniture.
  • Global Sources (Hong Kong) facilitates trade from China to the rest of the world through its English-based website since most countries do not speak Mandarin.

What other countries can learn from Asia

Frugality- while most people would spend their earnings in a dance club, Asians tend to save nearly all their earnings. They use their savings to develop or build more B2Bs.

Agility- it is the ability to go with the flow and adapt to change. While B2Bs in other continents were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ones in Asia thrived because they were able to improvise.

Friendly ecosystem- unlike other countries where businesses face stiff competition, in Asia, it is quite the opposite. Competing businesses in Asia put their differences aside and work together.

Globalist approach- Asian B2Bs do not focus on trading within their country only. They understand that their businesses will flourish more if they get international clients that’s why they engage in E-commerce to facilitate international trade.

Population size- albeit controversial, the huge population size in Asia has greatly led to their B2Bs flourishing. You are more likely to find a market for your goods and services in a population of 10 million people as opposed to 1 million people.

Relationships- transactions between B2Bs in the western world are brief with no human attachments. Contrast them with Asians, who do not view transactions as money-making ventures but a social experience.

Conclusion

If you intend to run a successful B2B in Asia, then it’s vital to understand each country’s regulations on B2Bs. Asian governments have their policies regarding how B2Bs should operate. By understanding the different ways Asians operate B2Bs, you will be able to do business with them by not imposing your methods on them.

Adam Hansen