Trade Resources Industry Views Taiwan's Small Firms Go Multinational Through E-Commerce

Taiwan's Small Firms Go Multinational Through E-Commerce

Any enterprise in any doubt about the Internet's promotional power need only look at Taiwanese beverage firm EjiA Biotechnology.

The company, among 10 in Taiwan that won awards from Alibaba for their performance in e-commerce on Tuesday, used to plug the traditional business model of selling its drinks in local supermarkets. It joined business-to-business (B2B) platform Alibaba two years ago, as it was launching a new product based on a traditional recipe for pregnant women.

"Women are served red bean soup to help ease the swelling of their feet. When my wife was pregnant, I was inspired and developed a drink targeting ladies," said Stanley Wu, EjiA general manager. "Now my child is less than 2 years old but the drink has been sold across the world, thanks to the Internet."

EjiA's story highlights how cost-effective a powerful e-commerce platform like Alibaba can be for small businesses to have an online presence.

"We had never thought about exporting our products. As a small private firm, we did not have the resources to promote abroad nor the contacts with foreign dealers. The Internet changed everything," Wu said, considering how the drink has now been sold in more than 20 countries and regions.

The Alibaba platform has connected EjiA with partners in almost all ASEAN members, the Republic of Korea, Britain and the United States. It also has about 1,000 dealers on Alibaba's, the mainland' s biggest online shopping site, and will open stores on and, the mainland's two major retailing websites, next year.

Wu said he was confident of reaching even more markets as his staff have become more skilled in doing business online.

For GZ Chen, chief executive officer of Alibaba award winner Serafim, the Internet is his only marketplace. The firm, which produces computer hardware, has just launched its own brand this year.

Like many small Taiwanese businesses, Serafim, with 10 employees, had previously operated as a manufacturer for famous brands.

"It would have been very costly to have our own brand and promote it offline," Chen explained. "The B2B platform made it easy and cheap."

Through the Internet, Serafim's products have been sold to customers from about 58 countries and regions and it has dealers in a dozen of them.

It's not just startups like EjiA and Serafim that are attracting clients online -- many suppliers in machinery and other traditional Taiwanese manufacturing sectors also have the same story.

Chang Yu-chi is sales executive of RST Enterprise Co. Ltd, a 30-year-old machinery manufacturer based in Kaohsiung of southern Taiwan that also won one of Alibaba's awards. The company's fastest-growing market is South America.

"Europe and the United States are traditional markets for Taiwanese manufacturers. If we had not joined a B2B website, we would not have known the demand in those distant markets where we have no links," Chang said.

This is the second year Alibaba has hosted this contest for its clients in Taiwan. The 10 winners are much more diverse this time.

"Our clients were mostly manufacturing suppliers. But more and more small firms from other sectors have worked with us, especially those that used to directly deal with local consumers," said Bryan Fu, general manager of Alibaba's Taiwan branch.

Also, small businesses from southern Taiwan, often considered more conservative than those in the north, have rapidly caught up in e-commerce, he added.

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