敢吃螃蟹,才有回报 – You’ll only get returns if you dare to eat crab – English

  
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Taobao ‘Crown’ sellers club’s routine meeting was held in Caohejing from the13th to 14th Oct. 2012. Kele(alias) was one of the pioneers setting their foot in Taobao. After years and years of effort, Kele’s Taobao shop is growing rapidly in its size, the variaty of goods they offer, with above millions of annual sales amount. Capable sellers share experience and dicuss about the new business model developed by Taobao with a view to adjust their future strategies at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Bable is hoping that readers will gain insight into how those business men, who had been digging gold and profiting from the largest B2C&C2C platform in China, have grown and succeeded with with a novel business model like Taobao, through a brief interview with Kele.

Education does not necessarily mean commercial talent.

Q1: You are one of the pioneer sellers in Taobao, what prompted you to start a online shop? Was it because that you plainly wanted to give it a shot, or that you saw the potential of Taobao?

A1: I decided to try it out. New opportunities come with new forums.

Basing on your perception and observance, what was Taobao like at its early stage? From what time roughly did Taobao became increasingly popular?

A2: It was simple –negotiation, bargaining and deals closure– it was like a flea market.

From around 08.

Q3: What do you think was the reason that Taobao became the top B2C & C2C platform? What was the role that sellers like you in its development?

A3: We had the role of showing support.

Q4: How was the business at the start? What marketing strategies did you employ?

A4: Deal by deal, we establish good reputation.

Q5: Why did you choose this type of product over others? In your opinion, what are the advantages of selling them online compared to the traditional way of making sales?

Q5: My boss was a friend of mine thus I had supply of goods. There was a great number of customers and no tax burden, which saved the trouble of selling from a store.

Q6: Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? How do you interpret the word ‘entrepreneur’?

A6: No I don’t. Entrepreneurs are businessmen except that the word is a better version of ‘businessmen’.

Q7: In the past few years, for the better of Taobao shop, did you find it necessary to enrich your knowledge of finance and economics and what book did you read? Have you received relevant training? Did you find what you learned in class helpful when it comes to practice? What should be improved?

A7: Sure it is necessary, because you have to have knowledge of marketing and be able to understand financial reports from the very beginning. However, books, which are summary of theories, are not vital to the success of business. Great businessman should be capable of act the same as what was said in the book without strict adherence to it. Copying what was said in the book would often lead to fall of business. Practice is the best way of learning though they price you pay could be huge. What a successful businessman learn from working in his industry is the most valuable thing, but they are not prepared to let the secret out.

The Story Behind Taobao’s success

Q8: Taobao one of the best B2C & C2C systems. What do you think are Taobao’s innovation and advantages that made it what it is?

A8: Reflecting on Taobao’s history, back in 04, 05 when internet was still new and there was much to be explored, Taobao did groundbreaking work. Taobao is the most successful illustration of the application of ‘sanliu’ theory, a theory that involves information flow, cash flow and logistics, that we learned back then.

Information flow: Compared to the old Ebay, Taobao did put restrain on direct communication between sellers and buyers. Phone calls and QQ were both possible means of starting conversation. Later on, Taobao created IM(Instant Massenger) like Wangwang to encourage both parties to chat and meet up, and close as many deals as possible. This was entirely different from the model of Ebay which only permitted communication through emails. Surely, there was a reason that Ebay did so. Ebay saw itself rather as an agent, because it is only through tight control on information flow could Ebay secure its dominating position in transactions, thus making it possible to impose additional fees. However, Taobo, functioning like a fleemarket, seems to provide nothing but a platform. Taobao gave up the idea of profiting from information slow, diverted it attention from copying the model of Ebay( of cause this was not the case later on, Express Service (直通车),Mall Ranking (商场排名),and Juhuasuan (聚划算)all relied on information flow to generate profit), and targeted solely on sales rate. This way, the number of users was increased and the loyalty of them was strengthened (all the IT website cared not one bite of profitability, since funding was never hurting for VC (Venture Capital,) this is still true today – it is market share that matters), which is the logic behind its strategy.

Cash Flow: The finance industry as compared to that of foreign countries where credit cards, banks and ATM were largely in use, was like an unexplored desert. On the day Taobao was founded, so was Alipay which, in my opinion, was the main driving force behind the success of Taobao. The hostile net environment combined with guarded position Chinese tend to take against strangers meant that ensuring secured transactions was what would attract customers. Ma Yun has background in foreign trade. Alipay is a bit similar with banks that expertise in import/export trade: buyers pay the bank (Alipay), bank issues a credit letter (Alipay hadn’t employed such a complex procedure, informing the seller was enough), request to the seller to dispatch, and it is only after buyers confirms the quality of goods can money be transferred to the buyer.

The system solved the problem faced by Chinese customers that online payment could not be made without credit card, and it ensured a relatively fair and equal way of transacting. Also there identity can not be verified on the internet and fake IDs are common. And only banks were reliable to the people who inturn would willingly reveal his/her true identity – age, sex and place of residence. Thus this alone was the reason that Taobao did not worry the least bit about private settlement between parties – it is a certain thing that Taobao will profit as long as Chinese remain guarded to trading with strangers, Alipay backup and cash flow was under control.

As early as 2007, Taobao volume of trade of 100million, 100% of which were transacted through Alipay. The average time that the money remained in the hand of Alipay was 7days. Up to 2011 Taobao’s daily volume was up to 1 billion! It is only imaginable how large the amount that Alipay has. Thus it is hardly possible that making profit would be a problem for Taobao! ( up to day, Taobao and Alipay both do not tempted to charge commission – this is probably not something Ma Yun had expected!)

In addition, conformity with Chinese mind set is the main reason that Taobao defeated Ebay. Generally speaking the westerns have a ‘add-up’ mind set – like auction where the seller sets the reserve price and the highest bidder wins. Whereas Chinese like ‘deductions’ – buyers would bargain with the seller to reach a lower price. Taobao renovated its system to one which allows goods to be purchased at an offer lower than the listed price, plus buyers and sellers could have real time communication online, which is much favourable in the eyes of Chinese. When Ebay is sticking to its universal rule of practice, Taobao had employed a strategy which was applicable at the time being, thus when Whitman (the CEO of Ebay) came to the play in person it was already too late to make any difference.

Not many has noticed that Taobao never stops moving forward when it has become the giant of the industry: when new competitors emerge, e.g. Baidu and Paipai, Taobao makes itself learnt of their approach and strategies, it studies their new model, such as ‘group buy’ ( 团购)and ‘price compare’(比价), and updates itself. Besides, the Taobao applications were in market a long time ago. To date, Taobao has been continuously changing and developing, without making major strategic mistakes. I work with Taobao from morning to night, and I found that Taobao has been putting up new products every now and then, like what was said by an employee of Taobao, ‘ in his firm, the only thing stays the same in Taobao is the fact that Taobao is everchanging.’

Who is Ma Yun

Q9: You can have a glimpse of Ma Yun’s grand strategies from the modeal of TOabao. I know you admire Ma Yun personally, can you tell me what qualities of Ma Yun you adore the most?

A9: Ma Yun is some one who understands the significance of keeping ‘low-profile’, a term which I’m referring to, not only in the context of media coverage but also of public relations.

马云是神马人物

Q9:从淘宝的商业模式可以一窥马云的战略宏图,我知道您个人私底下极为欣赏马云,能说说您具体欣赏他哪些特质呢?

A9:马云是一个懂得“低调”的人,这里的低调并不是指他的媒体曝光度,而是他的媒体公关形象,相比其他人,马云表现更像是一个网络宣教者(Missonary),而不是自己公司的发言人,他很少去谈自己公司的事,不会宣布今天自己今年要做到几百亿,几千亿,也不会去批评别人的公司如何,似乎更像一种网络和创业的哲学家,谈着不着边际的问题!事实上,马云是中国这个社会中少数的理想实践者,除了会高谈阔论,但是又有能力去实践落实它!马云基本上很懂得他的公关身份,在公开场合絶不说出超过其身份的话,事实上大多数成功企业家的都是如此!

马云极少示人的,也是他真正厉害的地方,是他和政府的公关能力以及他如教主般利用理想驱使人家为其卖命的说服力!早从他做中国黄页开始,他就己经有了和政府关系的联系,一直到阿里巴巴,到做到“支付宝”这件事时,我才觉得这个人的政府关系不简单,在中国这样高度金融管制的国家,这个中间有很多说不清,道不明要打通关结的地方,金融监管的许可,要银行支持,因此造成银行利益的流失(支付宝跨省转帐是免钱的,一直到这二年才有金额限制)这不是一般企业能做的!他是少数我所知道能参透中国二套话系统的代表性人物(即很懂得用理想包装现实的人)而且有一种魔力使得政治人物相信,交给他做的,会开创出新的模式出现政绩而且同时能满足自己的利益。我觉得连王石都没有这种本事。

不会创新的企业就会被淘汰

Q10:前不久刚收场的电商大战,非常想知道您的见解,面对中国互联网这个庞大的生态圈,您最看好的是什么样的企业?

A10:之前的京东苏宁的大战,一开始我以为刘强东是有准备的突袭,我当初的判断是刘强东老是被人说资金链断裂,用这一次价格战来宣布自己融到钱了,并且暗示得到所大股东的支持。但是从后来的访谈知道,这回完全是一次突然,杀敌一千自损八百的无脑式的拚价。在电商圈里,京东旳名气是远远大于苏宁,这场战役草草结束的结果,给刘强东落下一个说话不算话的名声,最终这场战役的得利是原本名声不响的苏宁。

基本上,中国的企业,特别是互联网贩售的企业,基本上都是引用国外的模式,采取价格式破坏者模式杀入,背后依靠的是资金的支持!基本上都会陷入一个融资的怪圈,大家都在努力说出一个好像有美好未来的故事,最后上市由股民们买帐。这种方式,一很难长期保持资金健康,二则是别人模仿太容易了,最后都变成资本对战!国内互联网企业中,我看好有以下特性,1.基于国际模式为样本,但是可以因地宜制,能对用户有一定黏性的企业 2.成本管控良本的不乱烧钱的 3.基本本土用户长期习惯的企业或者国情的才能生存下去!

Q:11:您是否可以从自己的经历来为我们解说你所理解的企业家精神?

A11:简单来说,企业家精神,第一就是“生存‘和”赚钱“,第二层能制定企业标准让别人模仿,第三层企业家本身能构成为精神标竿成为人家的偶像!至于是不是在自由市场或者环境里并不重要,在任何商业环境,哪怕是黑市,这三点都有人在实践着!

结语:五六年前可能没有人相信淘宝会赢,更少有人相信邀游淘宝的弄潮儿会赢。我们相信这样的短视或眼浅正是彼时和之前中国社会中流行的观念。对新生事物抱着敌意,加以嘲弄,然后半怀恶意半怀诅咒地预言吃螃蟹者必败,一向是中国社会的传统。然而这位淘宝卖家的经验告诉我们,事情不应该如此。淘宝是创新,支付宝是创新,旺旺是创新,永不停息地创造和毁坏,成就了淘宝奇迹。在我们日益享受到淘宝等电商服务的便捷与优廉时,我们慕然回首,才发现改变和塑造这一切,竟然就是无数像这位淘宝卖家一样的创业者,和马云式的人物。他们有一个更响亮的名字,企业家。

企业家,或者通俗点说就叫他们商人吧,在任何环境中,都能找寻到机会,这个机会是利润所在。商人的作用就是如此,满足消费者的需求,先提供服务,后赚钱。储蓄即对当即消费的保留,克制自己的欲望。商人与普通民众不同的地方正是因为他们善于节制自己,积累资本,发现机遇,行动力强,马上实践。

京东如果最终铩羽,那一定会是他们愚蠢地固守陈旧的商业模式,拒绝创新——因为他们的活儿实在干得太没有内涵了,太不像个企业家了。企业家不是一份每个人都善于做的工作,企业家之精神是稀缺的。他们全都是被煎熬出来的人中龙凤。他们得到利润是实至名归,受之无愧。

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Source : Babel, 13 October 2012

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]