Lumin Wei, a certified engineer from Shanghai, came to Australia four years ago without any plans to start a business, but soon after arriving, Lumin came across an unexpected opportunity. His friends and family back home were constantly asking him to send products over to Shanghai from Australia and Lumin found himself sending packets of baby formula and vitamins to his family back home on a regular basis. Thus grew the seeds for Bright Ways, Lumin’s goods-exporting business.
China's E-commerce Revolution
There has been a growing trend in China for the middle classes to get their goods from elsewhere, this is what Lumin describes as ‘an e-commerce revolution’. Indeed, looking to the West to buy products ranging from shoes, clothes, to even dishwashing liquid has blown up in the past two years, starting in America, moving to Europe and now becoming popular in Australia too. But why are Chinese consumers looking Westbound for their daily goods? Lumin says that for this slice of the Chinese market, it’s about quality.
‘Quality comes before the price. For example, the quality of locally sourced baby formula can be a real concern in China, whereas people know they can trust the quality of products coming from Australia.’
Lumin began to extend his customer base beyond his friends and family, by simply adding a small margin on top of the cost and promoting his products on Taobao, China’s answer to ebay. Gradually as WeChat began to dominate in China, Lumin found it a useful channel to reach yet more customers, further growing his client list.
‘The relationship is beyond customer-seller, now it is customer-seller with a healthy dose of friendship.’
Lumin believes that the exporter-buyer relationship relies on trust, and has found that maintaining regular contact with his customers is the best way to build that trust, which in turn fosters positive word of mouth among Bright Ways customers. His methods have been effective: the exporting company now boasts over 5000 regular customers, and he sends a high volume of Australian vitamins, baby formula, snacks, and skincare products every week to China.
But, as Lumin quickly discovered, the cost of exporting is not cheap.
‘When my wife and I bought six cans of baby formula, we found that the cost of then trying to send it to China, was much, much more than the cost of the product itself.'
In the initial stages, Lumin was transferring money the traditional way directly into his bank account, but he found the extended transaction process from the banks and the hefty fee a burden on the business. He decided something had to change and started looking elsewhere.
‘I figured I needed to find a more competitive international payment service at a more competitive price.’
He started using Airwallex when it was in its embryo stages, and has found he's already saved thousands of dollars in international transaction fees. During his time with Airwallex, the payment system has made huge developments and added a number of new features. For example, he has found the customer onboarding process has become much smoother in his time using the platform. While it was a little complicated at first,
‘Now it’s easier because my customers can create an account quickly, with just their email address, so we can email their invoice. I've found my customers are more than happy to use Airwallex.’
Most importantly, Lumin mentioned that feels that Airwallex understand the needs of his business:
‘Airwallex was set up by a team with technical and financial ingenuity, with an understanding of the challenges businesses face when operating in China, but also other parts of Asia. I'm confident Airwallex understands my payment needs.’
Lumin is particularly pleased with the new QR code functionality, which is useful for his customers who pay using WeChat and AliPay. Unlike more established payment functionalities, Lumin believes Airwallex can address the rapidly changing trends directly:
‘In China QR codes have taken off, so being able to accommodate that is a great advantage, it also shows Airwallex is moving with the times and catering to customer needs. This incredibly useful for our Chinese customers.
China As A World Leader
Lumin, like many other businessmen, believes that adapting to Chinese trends will have an impact on a larger scale:
‘China is an economic engine. In time it looks like more Asian countries will be following in the footsteps of the Chinese economy, and you can see other South Asian countries starting on the path to great growth for themselves.'
For Lumin, innovation is key to succeeding in China, where trends are changing every six months:
‘Only a few years ago there was no such thing as cross-border e-commerce. Nowadays things are changing quickly. Government policies are changing and a lot of large capital businesses are trying to enter the market. The trends are moving and we need to move with them in order to compete… We’re developing our business, introducing new shareholders and taking the business to the next level. Next we'll be looking into how to integrate express delivery services.’
Lumin believes that Airwallex is also developing with these changing times:
‘Financial services need to innovate to stay relevant, and I think that Airwallex is on track to develop innovations that will continue to help them grow and thrive.’
Lumin has high hopes for the future of Airwallex, believing that if Airwallex continues to develop at the rate they have been growing, they will forge a prominent place as a leader in the global financial market.
As he puts it,
’These are very exciting times.’