Frequently asked questions
Starting export to China
To get access to the largest export window in the world with Shaeps, this is how we do it:
- Shaeps will identify a specific opportunity in the market
- Shaeps will ask that your company gives Shaeps the right to represent your company in the export market for a month. This requires nothing on your side but supplying Shaeps with relevant information.
- Shaeps will test the opportunity and return with a 'verdict'. If the market test proves a real demand for your solution in the export market, we will ask that you consider to give us the mandate to represent you.
- Upon agreement, Shaeps will pursue the sales opportunities and manage the first order with you on our platform. You will be required to localise your company, product, and marketing documentation - which we can help you get done. Also, you will be required to visit us in the market to get your company off the ground.
- Following orders will be managed by you through our platform, but we stand by for advice and guidance.
Incubation & funding
Most companies don't have the resources to manage the export processes out of the box.
Our value proposition rests on the ambition, that SMEs should be able to perform export without significant investments up front. We offer to support you during the process of organizing and / or operating the export - on short and long term. It will be free for a start.
Eventually, you may want to expand your activity. Should you require funds for growth, we can assist you in identifying capital among our network of financiers.
Typically, going to a new market is a major investment. But this is the very reason why we were founded – to change the conventional export process by identifying the customer first, then the exporter who can serve that need.
We believe in ourselves, and thus we are ready to share the risk. We do not require upfront fees. On contrary, we typically provide a number of resources to get you started for free. Our revenue model is based on your success.
We have been active in China for over 10 years, and have in that time built a strong network of alliances with local governments, investment firms and sales channels. Today, this enables us to provide A to Z go-to-market and operational services for foreign companies.
The quick answer is: Work with those who have the knowhow and who you can trust. Launching in China without this is doomed to fail.
Distribution channels are extremely important. Going online may be key to reach a large audience, but channels should be selected carefully. Selling products on one or more of the super-large online portals like Taobao or Pinduoduo may give you a superior reach, but will require substantial resources and awareness such as 24/7 attention to your online shop. We strongly recommend that you diversify and choose a few alternative sales channels such as specialized online portals.
Offline sale is still extremely strong in China, and a good way to establish presence / begin building your brand. To foreign companies, tier 1 cities may seem intriguing. China is huge and this shouldn’t discourage you. Tier 2 to 4 cities are easier accessible and buying patterns in these cities increasingly resemble those of customers in tier 1 cities.
The key to successful communication between you and your Chinese arm is to have one or two key staff with strong English skills.
It isn’t realistic that all employees will be able to speak English, and truthfully it isn’t desirable either, since English-speakers generally require higher salaries. Your general manager should be able to speak English, and depending on your type of company and products/services you may also need a technically trained staff member that speaks English.
Consumers’ buying patterns in China generally follow a few overall tendencies. The key determinant is Government policies.
Government policies and/or ‘attitude’ may be severely influence by international relations. The Chinese government has repeatedly demonstrated the willingness to initiate a wave of anti-sentiment towards a country, as seen in previous years with countries such as France and Norway. There is very little to do about this, other than to buckle down and wait for it to be over.
Second, domestic policies can often dictate certain directions and movements, like we see with the sustainability wave. China’s official policy of becoming carbon neutral by 2060 has spiked a massive interest in sustainable solutions.
Within that framework consumer behaviour is often governed by long-term trends. These include a large variety of products and services that revolve around stable aspects of Chinese culture, including things to do with healthy living, home decor, education and edutainment, and lifestyle products. A product or service in this category may not get you off the ground as quickly, but on the other hand tend to be less volatile and susceptible to outside influences.
Because new trends and fads can be spread very quickly on social media, making a product or idea the craze of the moment. The majority, however, tend to fade out rather quickly. This fast ‘rise and fall’ is often difficult to respond to in time.
Naturally, everything that can be done to protect yourself should be done, by registering IPs, trademarks etc. – preferably at the point in time where you start considering establishing your company in China.
Having said that, protection of intellectual property is an incredible hard challenge. IP protection and copyright laws are getting stronger in China – yet we regularly see local companies blatantly ignoring these laws and copy a foreign product. Infringements tried in court may take years to reach conclusion.
The risk is relevant ‘only’ to brands and other intellectual property that has already achieved a strong recognition. Most products entering China do not fall into this category.
How to position your company in a market with generally fierce competition may come as a surprise.
Distribution platforms like Taobao and Pinduoduo primarily represent price-sensitive customers. Low price is king, and while pricier items will also sell, this generally requires a large effort, unless your brand has achieved a wide recognition in China already.
Generally, when offering a foreign quality product you do not necessarily need to position yourself on price point. Numerous segments will buy pricier items if they perceive it value-for-money.
The hiring and managing of local employees can be a straightforward as well as highly complex affair, subject to the role in question. For general employees such as sales or HR it often makes sense to hire someone with experience from your industry.
For specialized roles the hiring process may be harder. Specialized people are scarce and their salary expectations are often higher. You may consider cooperating with a recruitment agency or your local partner to achieve a successful recruitment.
Labour compliance, while complex, follows specific rules and regulations, and as long as you follow those you should not encounter any significant problems.
Beware it can be difficult to fire people in China, which is why we recommend short-term contracts for new employees.
Trust or not, it is important to safe-guard the company against unwanted power. While the legal representative must be authorized to exercise certain operational and managerial decisions, the company should not exert too much power or allow the legal representative to make critical decisions suddenly without consulting with the headquarters first.
Trust takes time to build. It is essential that you spend some time with your legal representative. It is imperative that you impart your company values, dos and don’ts onto the legal representative – and that you make the legal representative understand his/her skills and knowledge are utilized and appreciated. Make sure to include your legal representative in important talks, and listen to the legal representative’s thoughts and advice, particularly with regards to Chinese culture.
Every rule has an exception, but the typical customer or network member is an SME with:
- Substantial revenue but limited export share;
- Substantial export share, but limited revenue; and
- Corporates superior experience but limited network in one Shaeps’ dedicated market(s).
In other words, companies with no revenue should typically focus on getting the business model ready to scale before commencing with Shaeps.
There are three main reasons why you should choose us.
Firstly, we offer a full palette of go-to-market services from sales, over export to incubation and funding - making us a good fit for early stage exporters.
Secondly, we offer access to a strong network of alliances with local governments, investment firms and sales channels, a significant prerequisite to propelling you into the export market.
Thirdly, we are a no pain, no gain offer. You should expect no real up-front investment, but very limited costs to get started. As a matter of fact, you can get a number of free resources to launch.
Selling on the exchange
You will need the following information to register:
- Your business details
- Your email and phone number
- Basic information about your business
- Tax registration details (GST details are mandatory if you are listing taxable goods and need to be provided at the time of registration)
To register, please contact us >
Buying on the exchange
We display to you the product categories you have expressed interest in. You may also go to a seller’s profile to see any products they might have in their catalogue and/or any featured products. You can filter a seller’s products by category or specification. If you’d like more information from the seller, you can request a quote or message the seller directly from their Shaeps profile.
You can purchase directly on the platform, place orders with sellers by adding products to your cart and checking out. We support transactions made through all major credit cards and wire transfers.
As a broker we see it as a key role to build trust between the parties. Shaeps will independently verify reviews, accreditations and awards, warehouse locations and more to make it easy to choose the right seller for you. We perform quality checks on newcomers and monitor activity to secure the highest possible level of confidence among both suppliers and buyers. Our verification may encounter topics such as reviews, accreditations and awards, warehouse locations and more.
We also keep cash on an escrow account until the transaction has been successfully settled.