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Online funding helps Chinese companies expand globally

January 27, 2017 02:15 PM
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Besides selling aggressively on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, Chinese manufacturers are using internet crowd-funding sites as a way to expand internationally.

U.S.-based crowdfunding websites like Kickerstarter.com and Indiegogo.com have enabled Chinese companies to test a variety of new products, from drones to a variety of web-connected devices. The consumers who use those sites are frequently anxious to try out the latest technology, even if they have to wait several months to receive their products after the manufacturers raise the necessary funds and put the item into production.

Crowdfunding websites collect commissions from companies based on the funds they raise, and they increasingly rely on Chinese companies for their revenue. “Chinese companies represent one important growth area for our business,” Sandy Diao, director of strategic programs at Indiegogo Inc., tells Internet Retailer. “Last year about 30% of our revenue came from Chinese companies.” 

As an example Diao points to a campaign run by Small Leaf (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd., best known as the maker of a portable keyboard called The One Smart Piano. The company, which developed an accompanying mobile app to help teach beginners to play, sold out 80,000 keyboards in China and needed funds to expand internationally. An Indiegogo campaign in 2015 raised $464,882, 17 times its initial goal, Diao says. That helped the Chinese brand expand to selling channels on such U.S. e-commerce sites as Amazon.com, Brookstone.com and GuitarCenter.com, according to Diao.

Even large Chinese companies are going the crowdfunding route. Earlier this month Chinse telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp. announced that it will launch a smartphone it calls Hawkeye through Kickstarter and allow consumers to vote on the features to be included in the device.  

“Many U.S. consumers like to search product information before purchasing,” Junjie Shen, head of North American marketing at ZTE, tells Internet retailer. “In order to produce consumer-centric products, we decided to use crowd-funding and listen to consumers’ opinion before we develop the phone.”

That led ZTE to incorporate into the Hawkeye phone eye-tracking technology and adhesive materials. The mobile phone can turn a page automatically by tracking the movement of the user’s eyeballs, while the adhesive allows it to stick to any surface.

For more Chinese e-commerce data, please click here for the Internet Retailer 2016 China 500. 

 

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