6 July 2004
Communications(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 07,2004)
Clicking On To Greater China
|hkenterprise.com is featured at 150-plus trade shows a year|
Surfing the Internet has become a daily routine for millions of people around the globe during the past decade, while business websites are now almost as common as telephone lines.
The immense business potential inherent in the Internet was soon recognised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), which launched a pioneering online guide to Hong Kong products and services in 1996.
Six years later a new, improved sourcing guide - hkenterprise.com - emerged as a core element of the TDC's award-winning trade portal, tdctrade.com, and proved an instant success with businesses and buyers alike.
The hkenterprise.com formula of offering specific marketing, sourcing and partnering services to existing and potential customers worldwide currently draws an average of 1.8 million hits a day.
A new and exciting dimension was added to hkenterprise.com in April, enabling visitors to search for potential suppliers in the whole of the Greater China region as well as Hong Kong.
"The look and feel is the same as the former hkenterprise.com, but under the search box is a new navigation bar, called 'browse by regions'," explains TDC senior publications manager Henry Ng.
The new navigation bar allows a buyer looking for toys, for example, to search for toy makers by market - Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, Taiwan or Macau - or by region. Type in a product name or keyword and a list of Greater China suppliers and their details appear on screen. "We have more than 3,000 categories to cover all products," adds Ng.
The decision to expand the pool of suppliers to include Greater China manufacturers was made in response to a perceived demand from buyers. A 2002 survey conducted by AC Neilson found an overwhelming interest in sourcing products from the Chinese mainland, especially in the electronics sector.
"We saw there was a need to provide a one-stop sourcing platform for Greater China and Hong Kong and to provide more choice for viewers," says Ng.
"To increase the site's strength, we needed to be more comprehensive so viewers will stay longer on the site - and revisit it - because it is a one-stop solution for the Greater China region."
Ng likens hkenterprise.com to a "virtual trade fair". "In the early days, TDC trade fairs used to have participation only from Hong Kong companies, but that was expanded to include other countries and has become a huge success," he says.
Expanding the scope of the website was the logical next step. "We are encouraging companies in places such as the Chinese mainland to use Hong Kong as a platform from which to promote themselves," Ng explains.
"We need to open the Internet platform to other countries and attract more visitors - if we don't the site could become less attractive in future."
Most overseas visitors to hkenterprise.com are from North America (28%), Europe (27%) and Asia (32%), with the rest split between the Middle East, Central and South America, Australia and Africa. Some 26% of visitors are importers, 16% are wholesalers/retailers and 18% are manufacturers.
They all rank the user-friendliness of hkenterprise.com very highly, according to TDC feedback. "The website is easy and navigable, user-friendly and it is very useful, especially for those who are in business," says a spokesman for Worldwide Travel and Tours.
Blue Sky Marketing managing director Hatim Ali Dawood agrees. "It is a good site from which to do business with Hong Kong," he says.
According to Arshad Al-Saleh of Al-habbara Trading and Contracting Co, hkenterprise.com is also "a wonderful site to explore products of interest".
A pre-launch email newsletter alerting buyers across various industries to the website's new regional focus met with an encouraging response from buyers who want more information about Greater China suppliers. "We are very happy sourcing our products through the TDC and the information provided is very useful to us," says Tiya Kapur of Tiya's Linen.
Initial reaction from Greater China advertisers was also supportive. "We recruited more than 200 advertisers from the Chinese mainland (80%) and Taiwan (20%) in the first two months," reveals Ng.
One of the keen advantages of hkenterprise.com is its pricing: it costs US$3,800-5,000 a year to advertise on the website. "For small and medium-sized enterprises and overseas buyers, hkenterprise.com offers large exposure at a very competitive price compared with similar websites," points out Ng.
Brand recognition of the TDC is also high on the Chinese mainland, and companies there trust its name. "Since the TDC is a quasi-government body, people know it is a reliable organisation," adds Ng.
Being part of a TDC product means an automatic presence at 150-plus trade fairs a year, the promotion support of 43 TDC offices worldwide, and mentions in trade specific e-newsletters. "The strength of the TDC is its global presence, which in turn translates into increased business opportunities," Ng maintains.
And with the world becoming a global village, having a global presence through a respected website makes perfect sense for both multinational companies and small and medium-sized enterprises alike.
A Global Presence
There are several key advantages to advertising on hkenterprise.com that make it indispensable for small and medium-sized enterprises including:
- cost - US$3,800-5,000 a year
- comprehensive product coverage - more than 3,000 categories
- high profile - the TDC is a highly recognised and trusted name on the Chinese mainland
- wide exposure - 24-hour international exposure at a very competitive price
- added benefits - an automatic presence at 150-plus trade fairs a year, the promotion support of 43 TDC offices worldwide, and mentions in trade specific e-newsletters
- proven success - hkenterprise.com draws an average of 1.8 million hits a day
Weaving A Successful Web
Listing on hkenterprise.com has been an added bonus for electronics gifts and premiums manufacturer Lee Handerson HK Ltd, which, like many other local companies, maintains its own corporate website.
"It (hkenterprise.com) has been helpful in getting a lot of foreign customers since they look for products through the TDC," says managing director Homer Lee. "If a customer is looking for clocks, for example, they look at hkenterprise.com and they find us."
Being part of hkenterprise.com has seen a boost in business, as new divisions of existing big name customers in Japan and Europe discover Lee Handerson's manufacturing capabilities through hkenterprise.com. "It is good for us to know that not only existing people in the company use us, but that we are reaching new divisions of these companies through other means," adds Lee.
Features like hkenterprise.com's video link have proved invaluable. "Some customers don't know if a company is a manufacturer or a trader," Lee notes. "They prefer to deal direct with manufacturers, so the video shows them the different divisions involved in our production."
Another advantage is the DIY photo function. "It is easy for us to change the product photos ourselves and put the most up-to-date products on the site," Lee says. "It is even faster than our own website, because we have to go through our web designer to make changes and that takes time."
The direct enquiry service has also lead to new contracts. "Our success rate is much higher when we have a direct enquiry - they will place a small order at first and then in time they become large customers," says Lee.
Exposure on hkenterprise.com is broad, notes Lee, since the TDC has a solid reputation as a source for finding Hong Kong products and services.
"With our own website we have to do a lot of promotion, but
with hkenterprise.com potential customers find us instead of us
looking for them," he maintains. "Instead of us having
to do our own advertising and marketing for our website, the TDC
does it for us, making our life easier so that we can concentrate