Oct 31

China Watch Blog has learnt that China will launch an unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 at 5:58 a.m. on November 1. The fuel will be injected into carrier rocket on Oct 31.

At present all the systems are in correct technical state. The spacecraft and the launching site are in good conditions, meeting the mission’s requirement, a spokesman was quoted as saying in a People’s Daily report.

The spacecraft is expected to perform China’s first space docking with Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, a space lab that was launched in September, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Oct 31

China Watch Blog has learnt that digital marketers can leverage the buying cycle and achieve greater results, according to a White Paper which discusses the various stages and channels utilised by the customer in the buying cycle and how businesses can garner this opportunity by optimising each stage and channel.

The new white paper by Software-as-a-Service marketing technology provider, Hydra highlights how digital marketing specialists can better leverage all stages of the buying cycle.

Titled “Optimising the Buying Cycle”, the white paper discusses how a consistent presence across all digital channels that helps to sway a prospect’s decision in their favour is something that online marketers aspire to achieve. However, budget constraints and fierce competition combine, creating an obstacle that is difficult to overcome.

By understanding the stages of the buying cycle, the channels that are more suitable and the phrases most commonly used for each of these stages and chan­nel combinations, online marketers can now easily determine the most suitable cross-channel spend and tactics to help them achieve their goals.

The paper looks at the five main stages that a customer goes through in the online buying cycle looking at the conversation that the customer has about products and brands and the combination of channels to meet their needs at each stage.

Each of the five stages: Adoption, Intention, Persuasion, Conversion and Retention, demands a different balance of influence exerted by others, and self-determination by the customer. The marketer’s challenge is to get this balance right and leverage it.

The One platform from Hydra can assist in the process of identifying the language that is being used by prospects at each stage of the buying cycle allowing for effective communication. Its live data reports also uncover the most important search terms and trends to deliver enhanced opportunities to users.

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Oct 31

China Watch Blog has learnt that China had 952.31 million mobile phone users by the end of September.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) posted on its website, the MIIT said 12.22 million new mobile phone users signed up in September alone.

China’s 3G mobile phone users reached 102.46 million by the end of September, the statement said.

The country’s telephone users totaled 1.24 billion by September, with fixed-line telephone users dropping 363,000 in September to 288.43 million, according to the statement.

China’s Internet users with broadband access totaled 149.93 million by the end of September, up 23.64 million year-on-year, whereas the number of dial-up connection users dropped by 198,000 to 5.7 million.

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Oct 31

China Watch Blog has learnt that Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest e-commerce company by market share, has announced last week the opening of its latest order-fulfillment centre in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, the largest in the country and situated near Shanghai.

The company expects to double the total area of its fulfillment centres in China next year to compete with its domestic rivals in the world’s largest Internet market.

The new centre occupies a space of more than 120,000 square meters, making it the company’s largest fulfillment centre outside the United States. The total area of Amazon’s fulfillment facilities in China was only 14,000 sq m in 2004, when it bought the Chinese company Joyo.com. That has now been increased to 400,000 sq m.

“We will consider opening more fulfillment centers in China next year, while also expanding our current ones,” said Marc Onetto, senior vice-president at Amazon Worldwide Operations.

According to Onetto, Amazon hopes to provide Chinese customers with even faster delivery times than those seen in the US, because of the intense competition from Chinese e-commerce websites such as Taobao.com and 360buy.com.

Amazon held a 2.9 percent share of China’s business-to-customer (B2C) market in the third quarter of this year, compared with 2.3 percent in the second, according to the domestic research company Analysys International.

“Following the merger with Joyo.com, Amazon has seen the fastest rate of growth in China among B2C companies in the last two quarters, more than 40 percent,” said Ding Jiaqi, an analyst with the Beijing-based IT research company IResearch Consulting Group.

Onetto said that Chinese customers demand swifter delivery times when shopping online because of the fast pace of life in the country. Customers in Shanghai and the surrounding provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui will have access to a greater selection of products and faster delivery times now the new center is open.

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Oct 25

China Watch Blog has learnt that about 7,000 visitors, representing 120 stakeholder companies and 800 delegates attended the JEC Asia 2011 event which closed its annual session on a vigorous demonstration of the buoyant outlook for the composites industry in Asia currently valued at S$31.7 billion, US$24.8 billion or Euros 18 billion.

The three days of conference and exhibition attracted 345 participating companies, with a more than 10% increase of the size of their booths and exhibition vs. 2010, representing 60 countries.

The event saw deals and announcements reflecting the dynamism of a market that could represent 51% of the worldwide market in 2015.

“Composites research budgets, either academic or industrial are expanding at rates substantially higher than before,” says Mrs Frederique Mutel, President & CEO of JEC Group.

“The composites sector is forging a bright future with sustainable innovations that were showcased at JEC Asia”, she says, adding that: “We were impressed by the novelties in the field of advanced specialty resins, glass fiber and carbon fiber applied to significant markets. For instance, nanocomposites in energy storage devices for electric cars.”

“We noted innovative building solutions for infrastructures and construction responding to the huge local needs. For instance, Japan exhibited an emergency house that can be set up in 60 minutes by 4 people in case of tsunami or floodings.

“Windmills suppliers proposed new high technologies or biobased solutions like bamboo integrated wind blades. Related to this, we can underline that two major wind energy companies recently opened research centers in Singapore.”

“Considering the remarkable growth trajectory of JEC Asia with larger booths and new exhibitors from North America, Europe, Russia, Middle-East, South Korea and Indonesia, we are committed to delivering another iconic and strategic event next year in Suntec Singapore 26-28 June 2012.”

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Oct 25

China Watch Blog presents medical products industry veteran sales executive John R. Treace’s “Five Common Afflictions of Sales Teams”.

Treace, who has been 30 years in the industry, says he has been a part of many sales teams in my career, and over and over he had noticed five common afflictions that affect them, each of which reduces morale and sales performance. They can be found to some degree in most almost every organization. Smart management teams are aware of these afflictions and work to avoid their potentially destructive impact. Any one occurrence of these problems will not necessary hurt the sales effort, but if allowed to progress to extremes, or if multiple conditions exist at once, they can be extremely harmful.

Affliction 1: Wasting sales representatives’ time

One of the prime afflictions of sales teams is forcing them to spend time on non-sales tasks, for example making accounts receivable collections, managing product recalls, or filling out reports that do not directly relate to the sales process. Non-sales management often requests that reps perform these tasks, but great care should be taken before delegating them to valuable salespeople. If you, for instance, divert five percent of a sales team’s time to managing customer collections, you effectively reduce the number of feet on the ground by the same amount—and the reverse is true as well. Sometimes it’s necessary to assign non-sales tasks to salespeople, but before this is done it’s worthwhile to audit a company’s sales process to determine whether they could be assigned elsewhere. Finding as many ways as possible to remove unnecessary tasks from the sales team’s shoulders will result in sales increases that will more than pay for the adjustments in duties.

Affliction 2: Poor sales meetings

Another affliction of sales teams is poor or boring sales meetings. The objective of any sales meeting should be to increase sales—period. Every high-performing salesperson who attends a meeting will be thinking, “Is this meeting making me money, or is my time being wasted?” Powerful salespeople are self-motivated, and they intuitively know if their time is being wasted. If it is, management is hurting sales and morale. Wasteful or unnecessary meetings also send a clear message that management doesn’t know what needs to be accomplished to increase sales—and no good salesperson will have confidence in that type of leadership. The simple way to ensure effective sales meetings is to develop a statement of strategic intent that includes clear success metrics. This statement will define in specific terms what needs to be accomplished and the metrics needed to determine whether the goals set in the meeting were accomplished. It takes a deep understanding of the business, the market, and the competition to write an effective statement of strategic intent, and managers who can’t write them need a better understanding of the business. The bottom line is that powerful sales meetings produce sales and keep morale high.

Affliction 3: Poor strategy

Ineffective marketing or sales strategies will always negatively impact the sales team, and this is especially true for teams selling commodity products or services. A player with small market share who enters a commodity market without a well-defined and well-implemented strategy can be assured of certain death. These types of companies usually say, “It’s a huge market, and we can grab some of it,” but it’s not that simple. The sales team will recognize ineffective strategy and will lose faith in the managers who developed it. If the players on a sports team lose faith in the coaching, the path to winning will be difficult, if not impossible; the same is true with sales teams. Don’t let lackluster or nonexistent strategy cause this lack of faith.

To compound the error, companies often try special promotions to save sagging sales on products that are ill-conceived or supported by poor strategy. Special promotions can be very effective, but managers should never call for a pointless charge of the light brigade. Sending the sales team on a promotion in support of a poor product or service is a severe tactical error. A successful sales effort hinges on good strategy, and companies that fail in this regard severely handicap their sales teams.

Affliction 4: Capping or reducing income

Powerful companies have managers who do not get envious when large paychecks go to the sales force. Managers who are resentful of this often respond to rising sales income by reducing commissions, capping earnings, reducing territories, or removing products. These are all practices to be avoided, as they destroy morale, which hurts sales. When it is absolutely necessary to cap or reduce reps’ earnings, it must be done carefully. If it’s done carelessly, management will send the message that future earnings for the sales team have been limited. Powerful salespeople want to leverage today’s efforts into greater sales and income for tomorrow. If their commissions are reduced, earnings capped, or territory removed, they will feel like that ability has been taken away, and the high performers will quickly look for employment elsewhere.

Affliction 5: Favoritism

We all have favorites in life and that’s normal, but playing favorites with individuals on a sales team is very destructive. Salespeople want to work for companies that keep the playing field level for all. If select salespeople are given extra incentives, special attention, benefits, or favors not afforded others, management is sending a clear message that there is a privileged class within the team. This is one of the best ways to lessen team spirit, as reps will spend their time trying to move into that special class and not trying to close sales. Managers can’t buy the loyalty of a team by strengthening a small political power base within a company. Playing favorites within a sales team causes problems for all team members (even the favored ones), but keeping the playing field level will pay big dividends.

Wasting time, poor sales meetings, poor strategy, capping income, and playing favorites are, with few exceptions, situations to be avoided. They are destructive to morale and they lead to poor performance. Effective managers will be careful to avoid these situations, and astute salespeople will bring these practices to the attention of management for correction.

John R. Treace has spent over 10 years specializing in the restructuring of sales departments of companies that were either bankrupt or failing. Investor groups and venture capital firms hired him to manage turnarounds of pre-IPO companies. In 2010 he founded JR Treace & Associates, a sales management consulting business. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and earned a BS in Psychology from the University of Memphis. Treace is the author of the new book, Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.

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Oct 24

China Watch Blog has learnt that Shanghai was ranked China’s most expensive city for business in 2011.

Shanghai TV tower

According to a list released by Forbes China on Oct. 19, it surveyed a total of 129 cities with a municipal GDP exceeding 43.6 billion yuan in 2010 using five indicators – labour cost, office rent, energy prices, taxes and employee insurance – as cost of doing business.

The survey revealed that Shanghai topped the list in terms of employee insurance coverage, including pension insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance and injury insurance, on the Chinese mainland, this top financial city had the second highest rent prices for offices, according to a People’s Daily report.

Due to soaring labor costs, Hangzhou overtook Beijing as the second most expensive city this year.

Qingdao moved up to the 10th most expensive city from the 21st in 2010 because of its rising labor costs, energy prices and employee insurance.

According to the list, the most expensive cities are mainly located in the eastern areas in China. Of the 25 most expensive cities, seven are in the Yangtze River Delta Area.

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Oct 24

China Watch Blog did a quick survey of phone dealers in Mongkok, one of the busiest districts in Hong Kong, and found that the popular iPhone 4S is easily available there, for a price, of course.

Steve Job did a good job of popularising this phone and so the iPhone 4S of 16 GB is being sold for HK$8,600, 32 GB for HK$9,600 and 64 GB for HK$10,600.

A shop in Mongkok

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Oct 24

China Watch Blog has learnt that over 1,000 workers have been on strike since October 17 over wage deductions at a factory owned by Japanese watchmaker Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. in the city of Shenzhen in south China’s Guangdong province.

According to a China Daily report quoting local sources, negotiations between the workers and the factory are ongoing, despite the local government’s intervention.

The strike started last Monday morning at the Guanxing Precision Machinery Product Factory, a Japanese-funded factory that manufactures watch chains for Citizen.

The factory’s 1,178 employees complained that the factory has deducted 40 minutes from their timecards every day since 2005 to account for the time the employees spend taking washroom breaks. The protestors also claimed that the factory has failed to issue pension payments.

The strike was triggered by an October 16 meeting at which factory managers proposed changing the way the wages are calculated in the factory’s production department, angering the employees and causing them to request legal rights and repayment of their docked wages, according to a spokesman from the Human Resources Bureau of Bao’an district, where the factory is located.

An investigation by the bureau showed that the factory purchased social insurance for the workers and paid their wages according to the law. The local government has arranged for the factory’s managers to meet with the workers several times for negotiations in the wake of the strike.

The factory finally replied to the strikers’ complaints on October 19, pledging to provide them with compensation. However, the employees have yet to call off the strike.

The local government and human resources bureau are working on arranging more negotiations to help the two parties reach an agreement.

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Oct 24

China Watch Blog has learnt that if an airline is banned from operating to Europe it can convert its ban status to operate legally by purchasing a valid air operator’s certificate in Austria for less than €350.000 to make its European operations legal.

Aviation Consultants International (ACI) has announced that it has for sale an Austrian Air Operator which is holding a valid Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in Austria for less than EURO €350,000 to any airline wishing to fly to the European Union legally.

ACI, a professional aviation firm has acquired exclusive rights to an air operator holding a valid Austrian Air Operator’s Certificate and is looking for partners to operate an airline or for an outright sale. This will allow the buyer to start an independent European airline or bring their existing fleet to operate as a European carrier.

An investor wanting to start operating immediately to and from the EU needs to deposit €350,000 in escrow. Within 10 days, the ownership of the aviation company, including the operating AOC and all permits, will be transferred to the new owner.

As a European carrier, the operator can fly to any destination in the world. The operator can bring in additional aircraft under the certificate and expand his business and fleet. Shares of the owner in the venture can be held safely by an Austrian notary public. This well established procedure offers safety and confidentiality of ownership.

A large number of operators from former Eastern bloc states and Russia are currently operating under Austrian AOCs. “Many airlines have been forced to go out of business simply because they are not permitted to fly to EU airports”, said Jack Richmond, Spokesperson of Aviation Consultants International, “acquiring an Austrian AOC will allow them to start afresh with a European advantage”.

Aviation Consultants International are a professional firm specialising in management of private or corporate aircraft fleet and providing aviation consultancy and trained manpower all over the world. The company works to make business aircraft ownership a simple affair and manages all regulatory, operational and maintenance matters pertaining to aircraft ownership.

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