Retailing in China

Therefore, the aim of the present study is to work out a high-level plan of successful localization trainees. By analyzing the status quo of Chinese retail market and the current situation of transnational retailers in China (including the case study of Careful), this paper explores how consumer behavior, culture and government roles can affect the localization strategy and creates a list of formats for successful localization strategies. The paper proceeds in four sections.

First, the concept of retailing localization (3 layers of localization) is Introduced as an antidote to the deficiencies of the prevailing study approaches to transnational retailing. One background sections hen follow. While the first part charts the status quo of Chinese retailing market and the rapid growth of transnational retailing, the second profiles the opportunities and threats transnational retailers face in the process of localization.

Then, by studying the case of Careful (China), the strategy analysis of localization in China for transnational retailers is profiled, including the analysis of the 3 layers of localization – namely localizing the strengths, localizing the products and operational system (ups) and localizing management and corporate cultural (PEP). Finally, the wider implications of this study for transnational retailers in the process of localization are put forward in the concluding section. 1. Introduction 1. 1 The Problem and the Study Objective Admit it or not, the relationship between transnational giant retailers and China has become a love-hate one.

On one hand, China Is virtually any retailer’s largest opportunity for growth In the 21 SST century. With its booming economy, fast growing domestic markets and untapped talent base, China offers massive business opportunities and great strategic importance for retail companies all over the world. A large and growing consumer base of 1. Billion people. National retail sales reached some 837$ billion in 2005 with an increase of 12. 9% over 2004 It is estimated that national retail sales will exceed some 1250$ billion in 2010. Source: http://www. Showbiz. Com. CNN/ SMS. PH? Org=show=33431 =l On the other, China’s unique cultural, business, and political environments pose significant challenges to transnational retailing operations that require a high degree of localization. Based on the fact that the localization of retailing Is much more complicated and comprehensive than other Industries, retailers usually find themselves puzzled and bewildered 1 n China. Indeed, many retailers have fallen prey to these challenges in the past 10 years AT operations In canal toners nave Eden unrolling extreme narrators In ten process of localization.

The concrete causes of their problems vary. However, one common underlying characteristic is that they all, to some extent, failed to conduct successful localization strategies. The initial objective of this paper is to look at the problems retailers have encountered and explore the flaws in their localization strategies. The present study has one more objective: to work out a solution to a racial problem about how the transnational retailers can deal with the socio- cultural differences in China and conduct successful localization strategies.

On the surface, these challenges appear difficult to overcome; yet, when we study the case of the multinational retailing corporations operating in China today, it is evident that some have achieved exceptional success based on their well-developed localization strategies. The experiences of these successful companies can be mined to create a list of formats which can help diagnose localization blunders of transnational retailers in China. Thanks to my internship experience with Chuan as Sale Management Trainee, I have been able to investigate retailing operations as an insider and had more profound understanding on this study. . 2 Current Study The uniqueness of Chinese retail market and the high demand of localization for retailing industry both in degree and content, make the research on the localization of transnational retailers in China an extremely interesting and meaningful one. While many previous researches have been focused on the localization of transnational corporations, only a few have explored the localizing strategies of retailing operation. Therefore, it is not an easy task to study the localization of retailing operations.

However, by referring to those previous studies in relating fields, I have been able to explore deeper about this subject. The study of this paper is based on a mixture of primary and secondary sources. This material is supported by critical examination of longitudinal data from annual reports, company documents, as well as scientific work of business magazines and web site. 2. Localization 2. 1 The Definition of Localization When a company conducts global expansion, it is surely to be involved into the process of communication with local customers.

It is therefore necessary for the company to get familiar with local culture, to study different customs, and to make proper adjustments to their strategies according to the varied response of customers. The executive of Careful once said 2 when doing market research in China that, “A store is a miniature of the country or city it locates in, so it should be adapted to the local environment. ” There are many definitions on localization from different angles. Some of them are based on cultural and linguistic context, some focus merely on localizing the products.

However, as for he definition of retailing localization which is a highly territory-embedded process, more practical and multidimensional view is required. Definition based on culture context According to the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA), localization Involves: ‘alkali a product Ana making It linguistically Ana culturally appropriate to the target locale where it will be used and sold. ‘ 2. 3 Three Layers of Localization for Transnational Retailing 2. 31 Two Misconceptions of Localization A. When talking about localization, people usually focus merely on product or service.

Nevertheless, a successful localization strategy for retailing is much more complicated and comprehensive, including also the localization of operating system , management system ,even corporate culture and business ideas. B. A very important aspect of localization is usually ignored, that is, to bring in and localize the advantageous strengths of giant retailers. To retain their core values and stick to their distinct features are the requirements of localization for transnational retailers. In other words, localization and sticking to their uniqueness or strengths never contradict with each other.

Instead, a sound localization occurs under the precondition that the strengths are maintained and enhanced during the process of development and adjustment. 2. 32 Layer 1 : to Localize the Strength of Giant Retailers A. Strength of giant retailers When talking about the localizing of strengths, it is significant to identify the strengths of giant retailers in the first place. Giant retailers have achieved great success in the world market largely because of the competitive advantages developed over decades of operation. Indeed, marketing and distribution expertise adds value at foreign-owned detailing stores.

For Chinese consumers in particular, who are increasingly conscious about food safety and hygiene and getting sick with the environment of traditional Chinese markets, transnational retailers offer greater reassurance and a wider choice than traditional markets. ‘Compared with a Chinese supermarket, the service is better, the choice is wider, the food is fresher and they provide shuttle buses,’ said Yang Shaping, a retired woman who spends about 100 Yuan during her weekly shopping trip to Wall-Mart. (The Guardian, 25/3/2006) The strengths of giant retailers are listed as follows: a.

Abundant capital, their scale, a stable flow of finance and rapid turnover b. Advanced technology and advanced distribution, logistics systems c. Advanced marketing and management experience 3 d. Well-established global competitiveness, corporate image and culture B. Three phases of localize the strength While it is important to note that transnational giant retailer have their strengths , more attention should be paid to the localization of these strength due to the fact that no business idea or system can achieve success by simply copying unless they are made suitable to the local market environment.

Wall-Mart’s Cam’s Club is a good case in point: The most important feature of Cam’s Club is that it is located in the countryside. It has achieved great success in the United States, however, it turns out to be a total failure in the Chinese market because only a small proportion of Chinese people own private cars. What’s worse, the transportation system in China is far from well-developed. Consequently, city dwellers have difficult access to Cam’s Club located far away from their home. Realizing this problem, Wall-Mart soon decides to open stores in the cities to accommodate itself to the Chinese market.

To localize the strength, the first step is to bring in advanced technology and management system to a foreign market for that is exactly winner ten AAA value Lies In. I en Toweling step Is to accost tense strengths to certain economic and cultural environments. Next, after localization reaches certain degree, hopefully, this strength can be further developed. 2. 33 Layer 2: to Localize Product and Operational System According to Farley dictionary, retailing is the functions and activities involved in the sale of goods and services to consumers for their personal, family, or household use.

It is obvious that retailing as an industry has intense communication with consumers, the service retailers offer is, by large extent, to provide customers with products they need. Due to different culture, custom, demographics, different group of people in different region have varied tastes over products. Therefore, retailers have to make careful investigation and analysis into consumer behavior and preference in order to enhance consumer satisfactory. A thorough localization strategy in product structure is critical to transnational retailers.

As for sourcing, localizing the sourcing in local economy enable transnational retailers to meet needs of local customers and reduce delivery cost. Top retailers have come up with a series of advanced business modes and operation system during long time of operating experience. But this modes and system should be integrated into and modified with local environment and uniqueness, as explained above in the elaboration of the first layer of localization. 4 3. Retailing Transnational in China 3. The Status Quo of Chinese Retail Environment Like everything else in China these days, the change of retail market is at a spectacular speed and on a scale the world has never seen before. It is already one of the fastest expansions in retail history, but analysts say it could get faster as international giants race for territory in a $billion retail market that is growing at a double-digit pace. The domestic supermarket leader is Baling, with nearly 2 000 stores, and the foreign legion is led by Careful, which has 70 hypermarkets, eight supermarkets and more than 100 discount shops.

Wall-Mart currently has 56 megastars mostly in the southeast with about 30 000 employees. But even after it opens 20 more stores this year, its sales are unlikely to enter the top 10 of China’s major retailers. Germany’s Metro is the No. 4 foreign player, with 24 stores and another 40 within five years. Foreign investment has formerly been focused in Shanghai, Beijing, Sheen and other large eastern cities. But, as a sign of the growing power of Chinese consumption, many of the new shops are being opened in smaller cities. 3. Opportunity and Threat Analysis 3. 21 Opportunities for Retailing Transnational There is no shortage of incentives for foreign retailers in China. For many Chinese people, price is no longer the priority. Foreign retailers are also Telling It sealers to set up snoops Decease many restrictions n overseas firms were lifted in 2004 under China’s World Trade Organization commitments. A. The largest consumer market With a population of 1. 3 billion and massive markets, China is attracting intense interest from the world as a consumer market.

Over the past 20 years, retail sales in China have Jumped nearly 15% annually, to some $837 billion in 2005 making it the third-largest market on earth. The average annual income of China’s 1. 3 billion people is less than $1 500. But the middle class is growing fast particularly in eastern cities and it has enough disposable income to start focusing on brand, safety, quality and taste. Consumer demand for modern shopping environment Since the mid sass, the high demand for modern shopping environments in China has been growing due to the rapid economic growth and rising levels of affluence. And consumer expectations have shot up even faster.

Accompanied by the increase of purchasing power in China since then, both traditional supermarkets and department stores were not be able to meet the requirements of one-stop 5 shopping and shopping as leisure. Just a few years ago, most Chinese were content to line up in state-owned stores to buy whatever meager products were available, ND then shuffle off to unsanitary outdoor markets for meat, eggs, and vegetables. Now both local chains and the multinationals are pushing out the stodgy old state retailers and mom-and-pop shops by building big, convenient stores in central locations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Gunshot.

Huge mass retailers emerged by providing customers with a great variety of goods at low cost and one-stop shopping. Therefore, it is undoubted a golden time for retailers to enter a market that shows great assurance to them. For example, Macro from the Netherlands first entered Taiwan and quickly captured more than 30% market share in 1989. B. The change of policy from a protectionist orientation toward liberalizing In keeping with the conditions for China’s membership in the World Trade Organization, Beijing on Deck. 1, 2004 lifted most restrictions on foreign retailers. Gone are limits on the number of stores, rules confining them to large cities, and regulations capping the foreigners’ stake in local ventures at 65%. C. Regional advantages of Chinese market Cheep and sufficient labor resources: with its vast population, China is always able to provide transnational retailers with abundant labor force which requires relatively low ages. Moreover, Chinese employees are far more reliable than their counterpart in the host countries of international giant retailers.

Cheap merchandises: the cost of many products in China is much less than in developed countries because of the cheap labor, which allows transnational retailers to make reasonable sourcing decisions both in China and the world. 3. 22 Threats for Retailing Transnational Given all the opportunities presented by China’s growth, many NC retailers are eager to gain access to this market. The country unique traditions, history, culture, and overspent policies, altogether mean that doing business in China can be a complicated and time-consuming undertaking.

Foreign retailers interested in gaining access to China face lots of challenges which they must attempt to solve or they will turn away. A. Intense competition from both transnational and domestic companies Competition from transnational companies There has always being fierce competition Detente gallant retailers In ten essences market; no one wants to De lagged Denver. As Tiff Gill, senior manager of the Kurt Salmon Associates Consultancy said, ‘All the big players are engaged in a turf war. It is about being first and getting as much coverage in as many cities as possible.

This is a period of very aggressive growth. We are bordering the top end of the curve. But there is a possibility that investment could grow even faster. ‘(The Guardian, March 25, 2006) Many U. S. And foreign retailers are accelerating their investments in China, spurred by further easing of government restrictions and the allure of the world’s fastest-growing consumer market. These giant retailers are engaging in fierce competition, opening many new stores in order to take advantage of the high rates of growth in this segment of the detail market 6 B is also pushing hard.

The British firm’s owner, Kingfisher, plans to increase the number of its stores in China from 49 to 100 by 2010. Kea has also caught the expansion bug. For several years, it has had only two superstores in China, but it plans to open two a year from now on. Competition from Chinese domestic companies Chinese sellers have the edge over foreign rivals, strengthening their presence more rapidly at lower expenditures. Their understanding of the local market and well-developed sales networks enable domestic retailers to respond more quickly and react more flexibly to market changes.

With the foreigners attacking their home turf, Chinese retailers are fighting back. Take China Resources Enterprise Ltd. , which operates more than 1,700 supermarkets and hypermarkets, including China Resources Vanguard stores for example, the retailer has trimmed its staff to boost profitability, and has sought to improve management by raiding the foreign chains. Today nearly half of the middle and senior managers in Acre’s retail unit used to work at foreign-owned stores. Those foreign-trained managers have brought in marketing expertise.

For instance, to build brand loyalty, CREE rewards frequent shoppers with discounts, and the company has lolled out more than 60 private-label products, including bottled water, shampoo, and body lotion. And CREE is moving upscale. The company this year expects to open four “lifestyle” stores offering higher-end products. Plans call for an additional 20 such stores within three years. Chinese government’s ultimate goal is to create a dozen or so big local players that will be strong enough to compete with the multinationals at home and expand overseas.

It is not possible for the Chinese government to allow foreign retailers to take the dominant position in the Chinese market. B. Diversified consumer behavior Chinese people have their own unique characteristics, considerably different from, sometimes contrary to, that of Westerners. Consequently, Chinese consumers have their unique buying behavior, buying motive, their preference on merchandise and taste on design etc. Therefore, the marketing strategy to penetrate Chinese market should be tailored to these Chinese characteristics. Unique Chinese characteristics * Chinese adapted to catering to authority and to harmonize with others. Chinese have more interest In unman Telling Ana mementos than clientele or logical concerns. In terms AT KICK read, literary books rate more highly than scientific books, compared with westerners. 2003:128-161) Chinese culture is built on trust, relationships, and mutual respect. * Negotiations are normally bottom-up and informal. (Comfort, J. 2001 : 23-26) *The concept of face’ is very important Avoiding action that could be perceived as anti-china, coercive, or condescending. Chinese purchasing behavior and recent trends * The Chinese display a strong suspicion of cheap products combined with a desire for bargains.

The typical Chinese shopper engages in habitual comparison shopping rather than 7 impulse buying, typified by the saying, ‘Never make a purchase until you have compared three shops. ‘ Nevertheless, shoppers quickly snap up items perceived to be bargains. * Generally speaking, Chinese are fickle customers with little brand loyalty. (Kate-if, lee 2003: 10-13) When selecting purchases, the Chinese tend to attach more importance to the reputation of the item among the community they belong to, such as colleagues, friends, neighbors than to the performance of the goods or how well they suit their lifestyle.

Thus, penetration of all communities is important for successful marketing in China. * Laying great emphasis on freshness f food: * There are also numerous new trends for Chinese consumer, which makes it difficult for overseas retailers to sensor and follow. A. Being increasingly conscious about food health and hygiene b. Issues of obesity and nutrition amongst children are also of increasing concern. Double-digit growth in the fast food and snack industries, changing lifestyles and a uniquely Chinese legacy – the one child policy -? are key drivers. C.

Concerns focused on environment, safety have accelerated in the wake of CARS, avian flu and widespread pollution, prompting a wider consciousness about product safety – from ice cream to I-pods. And, while perhaps sporadic and not yet conscious, a linkage between consumer rights and wider environmental concerns is beginning to emerge. D. While still evolving, the expression of consumer rights in China marks an important stage on the road to a greater collective social conscience, which, for so long, has opted to be quietly oppressed by those in authority. 4. Localizing the Strength Giant retailers have all establish a prestige during long time of operation. Yet, in China they may encounter unexpected situation result from the uniqueness of Chinese market. Consequently, retailers should be clear about what detergents can remain effective and what should be changed and localized. While Careful draws on its network system in its global operations (e. G. For certain IT and logistical systems), most aspects of its activities are strategically localized to meet the specific characteristics and needs of the Chinese market and its business, political and consumer cultures.

Generally speaking, the key success factors for Careful, which are applied worldwide, are: one-stop shopping, extremely low prices, full range of choices, self-service, and free parking. These factors can be viewed as the strength of Careful. To remain competitive in China, Careful bought in these strengths with her, adopting flexible two-stage philosophy to localize her long-established strength and achieve stable growth. At the 1st stage, to enable branch stores to smoothly operate as fast as possible and to maintain high turnover.

Meanwhile, to decentralized authority of set-up branches to link with community development that Totally leads ten Increases AT local tax, employment Ana Turner proselytes AT communities, Careful decides to set up a new store after the investigations of location, store space and neighboring purchasing power. For example, she built a whole-selling or green store in industrial region and a general retailing or blue store in residential ones in Taiwan. By adopting this strategy, Careful could capture both big and 8 small accounts in one shot and then grow much faster than her rivals in the early stage of market entry.

At the 2nd stage, Careful focuses on customers, personnel training and market channels. She gradually enhances service quality, product innovation and emphasizes personnel cultivation. Frenchmen take the positions of top-level management constantly to infuse management philosophy of ‘serve customers’ and ‘action orientation’ into each store overseas. When walk into any stores of Careful, you will see many staff walk around to replenish stocks all the time. The manager in charge of a store also wanders around the store once it is open.

Careful further adopts strategic alliances to develop private label products to supply more offerings so as to meet the needs of one-stop shopping of Chinese people. At the same time, utilizing the system of commerce automation to centralize the purchasing matters of all stores, Careful could coordinate orderings, stock management and data processing for better control and decision-making. . 33 Public Relation In China, the localization of relation is the core of strategic localization. Chinese people pay special attention to the harmony of community.

To deal with ‘relation’ in China is a matter of delicacy to transnational retailers because, for one thing, the relation-business pattern is very much different from their operation in western countries; for another, it is essential to their success in the Chinese market. The most successful retailing companies have been willing to exchange short-term profits for long-term success, short-term employee productivity for long-term employee development, and short-term expedience for long-term government trust. Relation with government As a special Chinese characteristic, good government relationship is very important for companies.

The government is not only a major consumer (government procurement) , but it is also the main policy maker and opinion leader. Learning how government works and how to establish good relationships is a critical step. A foreign company that is considered a friend o government will be granted favors such as a heads-up on legislation changes or inside advice on how to do business. Conversely, a company that is deemed unfriendly will suffer consequences such as negative comments about its products or passage of laws that exclude it from doing certain business.

Getting on the wrong side of a key government agency can be disastrous. Interestingly, Carouser’s relationship with the Chinese government is a love-hate one. She has made full use of the loopholes in government regulation to dominate the Chinese market, while at the same promoting employment and improving living standard. Relation with Partners Careful is good at choosing and maintaining local partners. She is always n seek of experienced local retailers actively and establishing cooperation with them to get Tambala to ten local market as soon as poss. Ole Ana gain support In sourcing, human resources. 9 5.

Conclusion Further Implications for transnational retailers operating overseas Improving crisis management capacity When operating in foreign country, retailers are always confronted with problems. What transnational retailers need to do is to improve crisis management capacity. Take Wall-Mart’s bean curd crisis for example, instead of responding to the problem actively, it remained science long before giving a suitable explanation, which had ruined its image in Gudgeon seriously. When facing crisis, it is important to make quick response because silence may be interpreted as being indifferent and irresponsible by local consumers.

Then, active investigations should be carried out immediately to find the causes. Finally, the existing problems need to be solved as soon as possible. Shaping humane culture That most retailers prefer on- going promotions to attract new customers and retain old ones is totally different from everyday low price and no price promotion practices of Wall-Mart. An open and tolerating culture of Wall-Mart could endure over time because managements treat employees as their associates. They show respect to each other and share both profit and knowledge that lead to the creation of a harmony organizational climate.

Therefore, companies ought to develop themselves not as a workplace but a learning institution with the culture of caring and sharing. Combining sales channels Retailers could combine sales channels of physical stores and virtual ones to widen their accessibility to potential customers. The virtual shops could not only increase attention sales, but also accumulate market information for further investigation. Regarding localization as a two-way process Localization needs to be read as a potentially two-way process that is not simply about the transnational retailers adapting themselves to specific market conditions.

Certain retail formats and technologies developed in particular contexts may then be diffused to other country operations, including the home market. Samsung-Tests, for example, has developed an IT system that has subsequently been rolled-out across the company, and is currently home to a ‘global’ team working on e-commerce technology. The emergence of China will be the single most important economic event in the next decade. Along with it will come tremendous business opportunities, a large pool of talent, and many powerful companies.

The stakes are high for retailing company. If it fails, another company or product could become a Chinese national standard, its products could be excluded from government procurement, and its image could be destroyed. If it succeeds, it stands to gain sustainable and predictable profitability, win-win partnerships with the Chinese government and companies, and great employees from a pool of amazing talent. This paper describes a high-level plan of how to achieve this success by localization in China, by learning from other companies’ success and failures.

First, a company must localize 10 Localization strategy AT Remonstration Retailers In c in 3 layers. Then, these strategies should be adapted to unique Chinese characteristics. In addition, giant retailers needs to improve crisis management capacity, shape humane culture, and develop greater information system. By carrying out the proposed strategy of localization, retailing companies can realize their potential in China by assisting China to realize her potential in the 21st century. 11

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