Blog Martijn Hos: How being casual can help build bridges with China


An inbound WeChat message from Cheng, researcher at Alibaba: “do you mind wearing casual clothes when we meet tomorrow?” I love the e-commerce sector! Dressing up is not part of our culture. Since building bridges is an important part of my profession I went to visit the Alibaba Research Department to find out if they are interested in joining forces with the Ecommerce Foundation.

Like I said in my previous blogpost about my visit to Beijing the future is cross continental commerce and we can achieve this through cooperation and building a global digital community. And one can only build communities by getting to seek cooperation and getting to know each other. This is better done in casual clothing!

What works well and can we further improve upon

In my previous blogpost I concluded that in our (future) cooperation we should focus on things that already work well. So what are currently the positives? Meeting-up and building trust. We have met with our sister organizations like the Beijing Ecommerce Association (BECA) twice in Barcelona now. Last time at the Worldwide e-commerce Round Table in Barcelona. Also Wijnand Jongen spoke at this conference earlier in Beijing, and just recently there was an inspiration trip (at CEO-level) to another e-commerce hotspot; Shanghai.

Sharing knowledge and collaborating for research

Due to investing in our contacts we are now at a stage where we can share more knowledge. We previously shared practical ideas, but now in Beijing Jorij Abraham, the director of the Ecommerce Foundation assigned me to talk to the Alibaba Research Department and to see if they can be interested in two specific Ecommerce Foundation activities; the online e-commerce handbook called ‘wiki’ and our global, continental and national reports. Just image how cool it would be if we can complement our figures with their data and knowledge. This would mean more in-depth information about other markets to help and facilitate export to China. The initial reaction was that they sure are interested.

Of the hurdles to overcome, the first is legal

There may be a lot more cross-continental barriers to overcome and many stages in between but I think a long term goal should also be the alignment of legal systems in order to make cross continental commerce easier.

Asia, the Americas nor Europe should want to change each others rules/regimes. We should respect them and the values they sprout from. We should either let the market find work around solutions and/or, as Wijnand Jongen also pointed out in his blogpost on the issue of a global single market, work on an alignment of the legal regimes at a global level.

If you have any suggestion or paper on how to achieve this Global Single Market I invite you to share this with me:

Author: Martijn Hos – director advocacy & policy at Dutch Ecommerce Europe member