"The second spring" of cross-border e-commerce B2B foreign trade


From China's formal accession to the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2001, to 2021, China will once again become a "world factory", and cross-border e-commerce B2B trade is glowing with a "second spring".

2021 is an unprecedented year for foreign trade. According to customs data, the export value of China's goods trade in 2021 was 21.73 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 21.2%. Among them, the export value of cross-border e-commerce was 1.44 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 24.5%. Behind the rapid growth, in addition to the cross-border e-commerce B2C trade that has been out of the circle for many times, B2B bears the burden of "ballast stone".

Beyond the eyes of most cross-border e-commerce practitioners, a group of imaginative Chinese enterprises are mining the second growth curve through cross-border e-commerce B2B trade. They may be in the wind power industry, or they may gather in photovoltaic tracks. In addition to "scenery", their industry has a unified name - "carbon neutralization".

Cross border e-commerce B2B trade, through the digital transformation of sales channels in such traditional industries, makes it possible for China's "high-end manufacturing" brands that need strong operation and maintenance capabilities to go to sea. In this process, the demand of these brands and overseas buyers also makes the cross-border e-commerce B2B trade that has been born for more than 20 years shine.

01 "reducing agent" of subdivision track

By carefully observing the overall internal structure of export value growth, it can be found that from the second half of 2021, the growth of value per kilogram is the main driving force of China's export growth. In the past, China exported a lot of goods mainly in light and small parts, such as electronic devices, rechargeable treasure and other products. Now it has gradually become a big one. The categories of washing machines, dryers and floor sweeping robots have changed from small to large. In other words, China's export commodities have gradually shifted from products with cost performance and efficiency as the core to products with quality and innovation as the priority.

Another change that is difficult to be perceived by consumers at the C-end is that new energy related products have become an important "fuel" to promote the growth of cross-border e-commerce export value, especially in the field of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade.

According to the data of China Photovoltaic Industry Association, the export value of China's photovoltaic products increased by 43.9% year-on-year in 2021. Under the influence of domestic "double carbon strategy", such as light energy converter and energy storage equipment, the products of Chinese new energy enterprises are quite leading in the world. If we focus on the segments, the potential growth rate will be more considerable.

Taking energy storage as an example, according to the prediction of Zheshang securities, the global new energy storage is expected to reach 12gwh in 2025, and the average annual compound growth rate during the 14th Five Year Plan period is 72%. This is a prosperous track with industry space expected to grow 15 times in five years. The "new king" of the track is the sunshine power supply whose main business is photovoltaic inverter and energy storage system. Its share price increased by more than 14 times from 2020 to 2021. In the first half of 2021, the overseas business revenue of sunshine power was 4.162 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 109.36%.

In fact, in addition to "carbon neutrality", traditional infrastructure is also one of the beneficiaries of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade. Sany Heavy Industry, which manufactures excavators, reported an overseas revenue of 12.44 billion yuan in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 94.62%; XCMG machinery, which manufactures cranes, reported an overseas revenue of 4.854 billion yuan in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 68.48%. Some non consumer boom tracks have produced a wonderful "chemical reaction" with cross-border e-commerce B2B trade, while B2B trade plays the role of "reducing agent", allowing sellers to focus more on the product itself.

02 digital B2B trade and pan flexible supply chain

In the past two years, the popularity of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade and the "flexibility" of digitization and supply chain are not inferior to cross-border e-commerce B2C trade.

If we focus on the recent sharing of Zhang Kuo, President of Alibaba international station, at the spring media communication meeting in 2022, the picture will be more concrete. "The average growth rate of Ali international station in recent years is more than 30%, and the transaction growth in the third fiscal quarter is 29%, and the average growth rate in the past three years is not much different. These figures show two aspects: one direction is indeed digitization, especially in the digital scene of foreign trade. There are many things that can be done. According to some policies issued by the state recently, the overall direction of foreign trade guidance this year, except In addition to the word "stability", there is still a lot of space to tap to expand the digital development of foreign trade enterprises. "

The digitization of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade to the platform mainly focuses on providing one-stop digitization solutions to solve the pain points such as capital flow and logistics. In 2021, one of the urgent problems to be solved in cross-border e-commerce B2B trade is cross-border logistics.

Different from B2C trade, B2B trade is not only sensitive to the price of maritime logistics, but also pursues "certainty" for timeliness. B-end buyers need to distribute the goods through retail channels after they arrive in Hong Kong. Whether they arrive in 7 days or 14 days, or 60 days, is a completely different business for b-end buyers. If the shipping time limit is lengthened again, the "spot" business is easy to become a "futures" business. Some special products miss the peak retail season and can only be sold as inventory next year.

Under the trend of fragmentation of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade orders, the added value that B2B platform can give sellers is to balance the demands of all parties. Taking Ali international station as an example, through big data and the local push team known as the "China Railway Supply army", we can piece together the seller's detailed cross-border logistics needs and port logistics information, and seek the balance point of maximizing efficiency and scale.

Even if the orders of B2B trade have become more and more "fragmented" in recent years, to some extent, the boundary between cross-border e-commerce B2B mode and B2C mode is becoming shallower and shallower, and the two are not competitive, but complementary. In the cross-border e-commerce B2C model, talking about the flexible supply chain must be linked with the fast fashion industry and the garment factory of "small order quick return". This model was not "invented" by cross-border e-commerce B2C sellers, but pioneered by early domestic e-commerce sellers settled on Taobao. The core of the emergence of "small order quick return" is to meet the "personalized" consumer needs.

From another perspective, there are differences in the definition of "flexibility" in different industries or different product lines. Unlike the fast fashion industry, the machinery and 3C industries have a wide variety of "personalized needs", while consumer needs evolve in the direction of "functionality". Considering from this dimension, the requirement for "flexible" supply chain in these industries is the iterative speed of product functions.

03 brand going to sea under cross-border e-commerce B2B mode

In recent years, with the prosperity of cross-border e-commerce B2C, both foreign trade factories and traditional sellers are ready to take the express train of brand going to sea. However, brand going to sea is not achieved overnight, nor is it equivalent to selling goods simply through B2C e-commerce platform or independent station.

Zhang Kuo told Hugo at the 2022 spring media communication meeting, "Many sellers go to sea through the brand of Alibaba international station, but there are three preconditions for brand going to sea. The first is the supply chain going to sea. At this stage, the seller is at least able to produce products and deliver them to the destination. The second is the trademark going to sea, so that consumers can think of the seller when using products. The last is the brand going to sea. At this stage, consumers and consumers in the target market need to be informed "High density investment."

Reviewing the history of many foreign brands entering the Chinese market, many brands have both on-line and off-line channels, which is actually a necessary element for brands to adapt to local conditions. However, the short-term ROI of brand building overseas is easy to be less than expected. Some small and medium-sized enterprises with limited capacity can obtain the credit endorsement of the platform through B2B channels in the early stage, and then reach overseas consumers. It is not a more stable choice.

If the brand goes to sea from a macro perspective, it is not limited to cross-border e-commerce B2B trade or B2C trade. Zhang Kuo told Hugo cross-border, "from the perspective of export, many B2C exports are also exported in the form of B2B, which is ultimately the result of B2B2C."

Taking Alibaba as an example, Alibaba has both cross-border e-commerce B2B platforms such as Alibaba international station and B2C platforms such as express and lazada. The group can provide diversified services through collaborative cooperation. Zhang Kuo said, "the merchants in the international station also represent some high-quality merchants of China's foreign trade exports. In the future, in addition to helping these merchants provide B2B services, we can also provide B2B2C services and help merchants provide one-stop operation and marketing services, either 2B or 2C."

From the perspective of actual efficiency, in the field of cross-border e-commerce, B2B and B2C trade will be parallel for a long time, and the share of B2B trade must be greater. The trade history of the past 20 years has proved that cross-border trade is often accompanied by different regulations. From the perspective of regulation, the most efficient way is B2B trade. All exports are coded, and each order, outgoing goods and incoming funds can be traced to the source.

In 2022, what B2B trade needs to do is to improve its efficiency and penetration through digital system. "These two tracks have their own opportunities, but the main structure of B2B and B2C through digital reconstruction is different from that to solve customers' problems. In addition, the environmental volume of these two models is different, which is the main difference." Zhang Kuo shared.

If we use one word to summarize the development process of cross-border e-commerce B2B trade, it is "Digital Global trade". Perhaps many years later, we will still lament the survival of the model and the replacement of categories. However, in the cross-border e-commerce B2B mode, Alibaba international station's move towards digitization must be a solid and correct step.

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