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SMEs are focus of this year's APEC e-commerce seminar

Representatives from 14 member economies attended the seminar.
Guests light up torches to begin the opening 
ceremony.  From left to right, Madeleine Burns, Ming-Hsin Gong, Yun-Rong Lin, Dr. Yen-Shiang Shih, Yun-...
Dr. Yen-Shiang Shih, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs,delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the APEC OVOP Seminar on E-Commerce.

Representatives from 14 member economies attended the seminar.

Guests light up torches to begin the opening ceremony. From left to right, Madeleine Burns, Ming-Hsin Gong, Yun-Rong Lin, Dr. Yen-Shiang Shih, Yun-...

Dr. Yen-Shiang Shih, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs,delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the APEC OVOP Seminar on E-Commerce.

The second APEC Seminar on E-commerce was held on Monday, August 20 at the Grand Hotel, Taipei. The opening ceremony featured an online demonstration of the APEC Local Culture Industry Virtual Exposition (ALCIVE). The participating economies in the seminar included Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and the Pacific Island Forum. This year, the seminar focused on tourism promotion and related sectors that have much developmental potential such as shops, hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies.
In 2005, Chinese Taipei proposed the project "Enhancing Market Development of Local Cultural Industries in APEC" during a session of the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group. This two-year project began in 2006 and has made some considerable achievements. Last year, the APEC e-commerce seminar focused on handicrafts. Fourteen APEC member economies participated and 2,286 items from those member economies were displayed on ALCIVE. This online exhibition hall attracted 360,000 visitors from 167 countries and attracted attention to the international market for handicrafts.
This year's APEC seminar on E-commerce sought to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) present their products to the world. According to Dr. Yen-Shiang Shih, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, Chinese Taipei, cultural products have strong potential in the international market. But since they are produced either by SMEs or micro-enterprises, they lack the capabilities to open exporting channels themselves. Second, according to Ms. Natalia Makarycheva, President of the Association for Cooperation with Nations of the Asia Pacific Region, SMEs have become a rapidly developing sector of the Russian economy and is a major source of employment in Russia. Today, SMEs provide 80% of the employment in most APEC member economies.
In Taiwan, local businesses, micro-enterprises and SMEs all deserve much attention because they play important roles in this economy. One objective of the seminar was to help them understand the importance of using the Internet as a platform to market their products/services. However, many SMEs lack the technology capability to carry out such a transformation. This is one reason why Dr. Shih suggested that the government facilitate the establishment of ALCIVE, an online exhibition hall for SMEs. The ALCIVE is supported by government bodies in all APEC countries and its technological operations are managed by government technology specialists. The SMEs do not have to start everything from scratch. ALCIVE was created to help save costs and act as a shared platform for the SMEs.
Everyone in the APEC member economies should foster concern for the SMEs that do business in some local scenic spots and guesthouses, or are engaged in the production of delicacies and indigenous food that may be locally known but that remain unknown to the world market.
Experts speak on trends
This year's seminar had the participation of two speakers who specialized in e-commerce -- Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy from the University of Washington and Dr. Ting-Peng Liang from the National Sun Yat-Sen University. They gave their professional insights into today's e-business environment. Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy delivered a speech on "New Trends in E-Commerce and Small and Medium Enterprises" and Dr. Ting-Peng Liang spoke on "E-Commerce Market Opportunity and Development."
In his speech, Dr. Krishnamurthy suggested leveraging the resources available on the Internet and the World Wide Web to generate revenue, instead of creating everything from nothing. Even small and medium enterprises can make money in e-commerce if they understand this concept. Anyone who would like to launch an e-commerce outfit should take advantage of existing market intermediaries, he said. What are these market intermediaries? They are platforms owned by the big players in e-commerce such Yahoo, Google, Amazon, eBay, and Baidu. These platforms offer the technological capabilities and resources such as Affiliate Programs or other web services for SMEs to leverage. For example, if someone wanted to open an online bookstore, instead of making everything oneself, Amazon provides a platform where this person can post his product link on it. In that sense, all the management of technology, brand promotion, risks, and finance is no longer a burden as Amazon can do it all. Dr. Krishnamurthy suggested that using a platform is better since the competition within the Internet is beyond one's imagination. This method is also a lot more practical since the cost is much lower than that of creating one's own platform.
Dr. Krishnamurthy identified 5 major trends. First, e-commerce is a growing trend because big players in e-commerce have shifted from a retailer business model to a platform one. For example, Amazon was originally an online book retailer but now others can participate in it to sell books as well. Second, the World Wide Web is now a dynamic global communications platform which brings out new patterns of trading and communication. A decade ago the Web was only easily available and accessible in advanced countries. It is now easily accessible worldwide. Third, in e-commerce, advertising is an easier and faster source of revenue than the commerce itself. For instance, search engines with rapid growth of contents such as Google and Yahoo dominate online advertising with 40% of revenue. Unlike commerce, advertising is not seasonal and requires low infrastructure which is both low-risk and low-cost. Fourth, perhaps the most popular, user-generated content, e-commerce is incredibly popularity these days. User-generated content is defined as the users also acting as the producers of content on a website. Major players are YouTube, Wikipedia, and blogs. Fifth, there are Global Sourcing Platforms like Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com which SMEs can use to find buyers for their products. SMEs should really take advantage of these 5 trends to generate revenue.
Web2.0 opportunities
Dr. Ting-Peng Liang, focused on the opportunities and development of e-commerce today, especially those known as Web 2.0 or the second business wave since the "bubble". Dr. Liang said that before the "bubble," most e-commerce models were online retailers and their successes were based on some key factors like broad product lines, free delivery, unique products, cost advantages, information advantages (publicity) and time advantages (in time delivery). However, SMEs cannot afford these success factors because their financial resources are not large enough. In the Web 2.0, conditions in the e-commerce environment have dramatically changed and new developments have emerged.
Google, Wikipedia, and Youtube best represent the development of the so called Web 2.0 (the second wave). All of them began as small businesses but now, they do not sell products. Google is a search engine, Wikipedia provides information service and Youtube is basically a video sharing community. They all generate revenues by advertising through growing content and popularity. Google today is one of the largest search engines with advertising revenue dominating the market and sole competition comes from Yahoo.
Dr. Liang defined 5 major characteristics in the second wave e-commerce. The first is sharing, where the customers are also producers of the content and share information on the web. For instance, everyone can post videos on Youtube and all the others can watch the posted video for free. Second, the second wave model is based on collective intelligence. One example that best depicts this concept is Wikipeida, where everyone can generate content and post it so that others can share the information. Today, the content of Wikipedia is 10 times larger than any encyclopedia in the world. The third major characteristic is self-service. The idea of self-service is similar to Dr. Krishnamurthy's "user-generated content". Customer participation plays a key role in this idea as customers today are much more active than before. Actually, the consumers become the co-developers in the web content. Fourth, customer centricity is highly valued in the Web 2.0. Today, customers know well about what they demand so that their wants have become the business driver. Fifth, personalization has emerged as the major marketing strategy since the beginning of the 21st century. Customers want their products/services personalized or customized to their needs. Since competition in the cyber world is incredible (8 billion websites today), personalization is what makes one distinctive from others.
Both lecturers in the seminar recommended that SMEs who intend to launch e-commerce websites should take the new trends and characteristics into consideration. Today's e-commerce environment is very different from the past. E-commerce is no longer just creating an attractive website. To understand the ideas behind the success of the big players is far more important. Since this seminar has been targeted at the SMEs that are typically financially weaker, they should learn to leverage from the big players in exchange for some fees and enter the platform that is based on both sharing and collective intelligence in order to generate revenues and save costs.


Updated : 2021-07-25 18:55 GMT+08:00