Interview with Barry Weng: Building up Cifnews and a Cross-Border E-Commerce Network

01/03/2019

Chinese companies are going global and they’re using cross-border e-commerce. We met Barry Weng, Cifnews CEO and founder, to talk about the evolution and trends of Chinese internet

 

When the cross-border e-commerce industry started to emerge, companies that wanted to go global had a hard time finding information about this emerging global market, especially for what concerned Chinese companies.

At first Chinese sellers entered international marketplaces with cheap and low-quality products, but this situation changed drastically in less than four years. Today, foreign consumers, as well as local ones, are looking for Chinese products, which are now renowned to be affordable but qualitative.

Nevertheless, with the increase in this demand, sellers from the Dragon not only had to provide better products but they also had to start working on branding and on strategies. Indeed, consumers from all over the world are now more keen to purchase products which have a story behind them.

Therefore, Chinese companies changed their strategy towards branding and started to look for service providers to help them succeed in foreign markets. Sellers started to seek cooperation with international logistics services to enhance convenience and transport time or with international payment services to guarantee efficiency and security. However, all these partnerships and gateways were hard to find in the global landscape.

This is the background which has given rise to Cifnews, a media platform that shares news and information to help companies enter the cross-border e-commerce jungle.

 

“Cifnews is like the spring rain feeding the fruits, which are cross-border companies,” said the CEO Barry Weng.

 

The mission to help Chinese companies to take advantage of this global opportunity was what led Barry Weng to launch Cifnews website in Xiamen, Fujian province, in 2013. Although it was the first platform in China offering these kinds of information, the main wish was to keep growing up to become the top global service platform in the cross-border e-commerce industry.

Working as a journalist deeply interested in foreign trade, Barry Weng was well aware of the challenges Chinese companies had to face while trying to find information about entering the global market at that time. Therefore, the founder did not just open a media website but he also managed to build a network of enterprises working together to build a global market which is truly global.

In 2017, the portal’s efforts to spread information about cross-border e-commerce resulted in the launch of the Cifnews Cross-Border E-Commerce Exhibition (CCEE) format. The event was held in Xiamen for the first time, but it was quickly followed by a Shanghai edition counting over 45,000 participants in its first year.

Addressed to factories, buyers, e-commerce operators and third-party service providers from all over the world, the events are organized many times a year in many different countries with the goal to create a link between manufacturing and digital distribution at the global level.

 

 

The idea is to ease the transition from traditional retail to New Retail building a bridge of information and networks between China and foreign markets, and the other way around.

With this in mind, the natural evolution of Cifnews website was to start developing from a simple media to a full cross-border service platform. Therefore, since 2017, the company started to offer a wide range of services, from providing training sessions through an online learning platform – Yuke – to supporting companies through the whole global selling process in order to help them succeed in the international system.

The opening of the international office in Italy, in Padova, the partnership with events in the US, Paris and Dubai, the extending of the conference format to the January Shenzhen Global Conference and the opening of a business center in Xiamen: they all represent the steps of Cifnews’ larger plan to provide companies and sellers with all the tools to establish a stronger international presence.

When talking with the CEO and founder in Cifnews’ headquarter, he explained how many Chinese sellers set the United States as their first and main market of reference at first. This approach limited Chinese cross-border e-commerce for years, especially for those who entered the global market focusing only on mainstream marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay.

However, also thanks to Cifnews’ disclosure of information, more and more companies now tend to switch to “multiple platforms for multiple markets”, as the CEO said, while many sellers are now interested in exploring other markets out of the American one such as the European, the Middle Eastern, the Southeastern and Russian one.

 

In an attempt to explore other markets out of the American one, more and more companies are switching to multiple platforms, which serve multiple markets.

 

Multi-channel and multi-markets platforms thus support both the companies that sell on marketplaces and those that sell on personalized websites. Indeed, even integrating the two channels, marketplaces usually focus on specific markets while websites need a great effort in generating traffic, building the niche and then in online positioning.

Nevertheless, sellers are quick in understanding the challenges and in acting accordingly, especially for what concerns Chinese merchants. Brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi or TikTok are the example of how branding could rewrite the global market.

These giants from the People’s Republic were well known at home but thanks to huge investments in branding and in quality communication they managed to break the country’s boundaries and become worldwide leaders in their sectors.

According to Barry Weng, the evolution of branding in the Middle Kingdom follows the same path of Chinese e-commerce evolution. Thanks to the leading local platforms such as Taobao and Tmall, little-known brands managed to reach popularity using the visibility these marketplaces provide. Even physical stores now find success in building online stores, the Chinese global leader in charging technology Anker is one of these examples.

Therefore, Cifnews’ agency, OBOR consulting, is helping many clients taking advantage of cross-border e-commerce to boost their international awareness. For example, Jomoo – bathroom accessories – is very popular in China but it is now looking for the best international channels through which expanding its market. The local leader for silk products Wensli, instead, approached the agency to receive help in their global positioning and promotion.

 

Inteview with Barry Weng - Xiamen - Cifnews

© Pixabay. Xiamen, Fujian. Cifnews’ headquarter is situated in Xiamen, which is one of the busiest centers of China’s trade.

 

In the next few decades, many Chinese brands will be fully integrated into the global market, whether they are well-known brands that want to expand or niche brands looking for worldwide popularity through digital channels.

After six years from the launch, Cifnews has become China’s largest portal for this community. Today, clients range from platforms and service providers to single sellers, from both the domestic landscape and the international one.

Today, the company works with 39 marketplaces from all around the world and with hundreds of service providers such as DHL, PayPal or Google. It represents a one-stop-shop solution for its clients and all the companies willing to expand their businesses.

Having launched the international version of the website, Cifnews now works in many different markets, not only China but also Europe, Japan, Korea, and many others. Working on several localized operations around the world, it aims at connecting even more high-quality partners with all the clients in the future.

While talking about internationalization, there is always room for growth. In this connected world, Cifnews started with China but it actually brings international markets closer together while building a wide cross-border community.

 

With over a billion internet users and a middle-class expected to pass 550 million people by 2022, the Dragon is ready to become the biggest market in the world.

 

New cross-border e-commerce regulations, which are linked to the New Retail concept expressed by Jack Ma and to the political vision of the Belt and Road Initiative, they now open the door to business opportunities that were unimaginable until a few years ago.

This is the right time to connect with the People’s Republic and the number of choices of services and platforms dedicated to cross-border e-commerce has no precedents.

For this reason, Cifnews helps companies to know all the possibilities offered by international e-commerce, collecting information and experiences from the main players in e-commerce, web-marketing, logistics, and online payment sectors in order to translate all this knowledge into insight and skill applicable immediately to international trade with China and from China.

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