Merchants at "world's supermarket" embrace new changes in new year

(Xinhua) 16:14, February 23, 2024

HANGZHOU, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Amid vibrant beats of drums and dragon and lion dances, Yiwu China Commodity City, also known as the "world's supermarket" in east China's Zhejiang Province, welcomed the start of a new business year on Wednesday morning following the Spring Festival break.

Merchants from around the world watched the performances with great interest. Among them was Bijoy George, an Indian businessman with two decades of experience in Yiwu, who eagerly captured the lively scenes with his phone.

George, who runs a trading company in Yiwu specializing in tools and household items, expressed optimism for business prospects in the coming year. "Yiwu is full of opportunities for trade cooperation. Last year, I bought 200 containers of goods in Yiwu, and this year I plan to buy 300 containers of goods," he said.

With decades of development, Yiwu has evolved into a pivotal hub for the production and wholesale of small commodities, boasting nearly 2.1 million product varieties. The city hosts over 15,000 merchants hailing from more than 100 countries and regions.

According to statistics from Yiwu Customs, the total import and export value of the city reached 566.05 billion yuan (about 79.65 billion U.S. dollars) in 2023, marking an 18.2 percent year-on-year increase. Notably, exports exceeded the 500 billion yuan mark for the first time.

During this year's Spring Festival holiday, China-Europe freight trains departing from Yiwu maintained operation. From Feb. 10 to 17, a total of 68 trains were dispatched, carrying 5,504 standard containers of goods.

Facing evolving customer preferences and shifting business models, merchants in Yiwu are striving to adapt to new commercial trends, actively seeking out new sales channels and creating fresh points of growth for their businesses.

One such entrepreneur is Zou Ying, who owns a packaging business within Yiwu China Commodity City. Her business got off to a flying start on the reopening day. "We incentivized customers with special discounts today and witnessed tremendous enthusiasm from buyers," Zou said, noting that she received over a dozen wholesale orders in the morning alone.

"We prioritize environmental consciousness by utilizing eco-friendly paper and biodegradable plastics to meet our customers' sustainability demands. Additionally, our designers are continually innovating new styles and patterns, introducing fresh products every week," she elaborated.

With 21 years of foreign trade experience in Yiwu and a burgeoning portfolio of eight stores, Zou believes that while the market may change, the demand for high-quality goods will remain steadfast.

Looking ahead, Zou plans to expand her factory from 10,000 square meters to over 30,000 square meters this year. "We anticipate a revenue surge of over 60 percent in 2024," said Zou confidently.

At an umbrella shop, proprietor Zhang Jiying proudly presented a palm-sized umbrella weighing just over 100 grams, designed for effortless storage in a handbag or coat pocket.

"This umbrella comes packaged in a drawer-style paper box, eliminating the need for additional cartons for e-commerce sellers during shipping, thereby reducing their costs," Zhang explained. With the rapid growth of cross-border e-commerce in recent years, her company has paid more attention to enhancing convenience for online sellers.

Meanwhile, technological advancements are being leveraged to facilitate trade development. Last year, Zhang ventured into using an app, after her curiosity was sparked by its AI capabilities. Upon recording and uploading a video of herself introducing the company's products in Chinese, the app generated a new version featuring her speaking in various languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

The video garnered over 2 million views online and boosted Zhang's customer base, she noted.

Data shows that in Yiwu, over 10,000 vendors currently use AI tools to alleviate language barriers and platform restrictions in foreign trade scenarios, which not only reduces costs but also enhances operational efficiency for merchants.

"Technology has become integral to our daily lives and has profoundly impacted our business operations. I am hopeful that the implementation of new technologies can generate fresh avenues of growth for my business," she added.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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