Like video communication, the digital services platform economy didn’t start with the pandemic. But in the post Covid landscape, digital technologies have changed how we do business. So, what forces are driving the shift in how companies buy business services online? And what does this change look like? Ting Zhang, founder and CEO of Crayfish.io, writes:
Post Covid-19, western businesses need to kick-start through recovery and reach a state of growth. One of the best ways of doing this is by expanding into overseas and ‘high-growth’ markets such as China and India. Huge opportunities are available, which explains why Britain has applied to join the 11 nation ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (CPTPP).
Such endeavours aren’t without their challenges, however.
Consequently, up to now, they have only usually been possible for large international players. Only such organisations have had the upfront levels of investment, contacts, and resources needed. But evidence suggests dynamics are changing to be more favourable towards SMEs. And digital platform economies are becoming central to that shift.
When doing business in an unfamiliar territory, it can be a costly and complex process to identify the suitable native expertise. Some of the challenges can be solved, either through translation services, or market research and analysis but finding a local partner is still difficult. Legal assistance is almost always required, too. And whole books have been written about the intricacies that exist within a country’s tax system.
While companies can hire consultants, finding qualified and trusted professionals in each area is expensive and time-consuming. Businesses can save time by hiring a large 'one-stop shop’ type of agency, but the cost of this is usually even more prohibitive for SMEs.
If it was challenging for SMEs to enter overseas markets before, Covid-19 appears to have compounded the issue. After all, the air fares needed for global networking are steadily increasing (1). Meanwhile, border restrictions the world over are in a constant state of flux. Most experts agree; even if all restrictions were lifted tomorrow, travel won’t go back to its pre-Covid state for the foreseeable future.
As we saw with digital communication platforms like Zoom and Teams, Covid-19 was the catalyst that saw us adopt new technologies. Similarly, post pandemic, digital peer-to-peer platform economies appear perfectly placed to help businesses expand into new markets.
Simply put, such digital platforms offer virtual marketplaces and connect clients with service providers. Reliable and transparent, they allow for value to be created and exchanged quickly from remote locations across the globe.
As a result, they remove the need for expensive excursions. No longer are businesses restricted by geography, money, or time when it comes to finding the required expertise. Their recruitment net can be spread instantly, across entire countries and regions. In this age of travel restrictions and concerns over carbon footprints, this makes sense. Such a delivery model is environmentally friendly and facilitates frictionless cross-border trade.
Additionally, clients can rely on the exchange. Most service providers are chosen on the ratings they receive from previous customers. And some platforms also vet their service providers for quality. Either way, clients have a transparent means of assessing the service market. Plus, they have the platform to turn to for help if they experience any problem.
A further advantage is that clients are in direct contact with their service provider instead of agencies and middlemen. Which then increases the chances of the client being happy with the finished product.
Of course, because such platforms are driven by cloud-based technology, they are more easily scalable. Expansions to the platform’s service network occur smoothly, so the client has more options, and the service provider has more opportunity. All of which occurs without anyone experiencing adverse effects in performance.
One final benefit for the client is the way in which they can learn from the platform owner. Owners, like Crayfish.io usually have a large amount of knowledge available for free. Delivered as blogs, videos, or webinars, they serve as vital resources as the client builds their expertise in areas like overseas expansion.
A pre-Covid study by KPMG estimated the size of the platform economy at more than $7 trillion (2). Given the trends we've identified, it's clear such figures will grow in the years ahead.
Certainly, such digital platforms are becoming more trusted in China. According to a McKinsey survey in late 2020 (3), 81% of B2B decision-makers think the remote model to be as (or more) effective than sales in person, directly as a result of the pandemic.
Additionally, 98% of these B2B buyers would consider making a purchase through an end-to-end digital self-service model. And contrary to perceived notions, this isn’t reserved for just small purchases. 40% of those decision makers say they would spend $50k or more. So, it’s clear that confidence in such service platforms is increasing.
Crayfish.io is a digital economy platform that offers businesses the quality services and global connections needed to accelerate their international expansion. We offer a truly efficient, trusted, and holistic solution, only made possible through the implementation of smart platform technology.
We’re different from large platforms like Upwork and Fiverr because we specialise in helping western companies operate in Asia with success. So, if you need help with marketing, sourcing, due diligence, or IP protection, Crayfish.io democratises access to cross border resources and makes Asia easier to navigate.
Our team has decades of experience helping western SMEs enter Asian markets. Consequently, we created Crayfish.io with them in mind. We’ve used our extensive network to provide them with a range of reputable providers. Plus, as a niche platform that cares, we always ensure our clients have a selection of high-quality services to choose from that come with guarantees.
The platform gives clients two options. Firstly, our virtual Marketplace serves as the perfect gateway into the Asian markets. All levels of budget are catered for, and your project will receive effective bids within hours. After that, you can use your skill and acumen to negotiate your own terms.
Alternatively, if you want peace of mind, Crayfish.io offers a wide selection of fixed price services. These range from setting up an office in China to due diligence in Malaysia and supply chain research in Vietnam. These services are available for up to 30% less than average market rates and are only accessible through our trusted network of providers.
In either option, you can communicate directly with your chosen service provider through our built-in communication tool Workspace. Which means you can share files, messages, and updates in real time. And access invoices and sign-off on the project once you have reached a milestone.
At Crayfish, we’re helping companies recover from the pandemic and restart cross border trade with Asia in a smarter way. We want to be your helping hand as you achieve success. So, if you haven’t already, click here to create your new account and get started.
1 - https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/23/covid-travel-rising-airfares-and-hotel-rates-are-making-vacations-more-expensive.html
2 - https://www.consultancy.org/news/104/market-size-of-global-platform-economy-surpasses-7-trillion-mark
3 - https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/survey-chinese-b2b-decision-maker-response-to-covid-19-crisis