Bridging China and Southeast Asia logistics to ride on eCommerce Growth in the Region

The importance of grit and tenacity to overcome hurdles when breaking into new market

As the head of Singapore operations for Cainiao, the job often requires Chris to wear multiple hats, sometimes all at once. Speaking to Chris over lunch in the heart of the central business district in Singapore, we managed to catch her amid her jam-packed schedule.

“Singapore’s logistics capabilities and infrastructure are known to be among the top five in the industry. Then, I saw the opportunity in Southeast Asia and decided to join Cainiao,” shared Chris as she talked about the reason for joining Cainiao at a time when it was starting to launch into new overseas markets.

According to data from Statista, revenue in the eCommerce market is projected to reach US$67.64 billion in 2021.Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021–2025) of 10.28%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$100.02 billion by 2025. User penetration is projected to grow from 48.8% in 2021 to hit 63.3% by 2025.

At the same time, businesses in the region began to shift towards a more omnichannel business model. This meant that industry professionals need to be equipped with experience in both online and offline retail, which inevitably also meant a different take on supply chain management and logistics.

Alibaba’s roots in eCommerce and partnership with merchants helped to accelerate overall economic growth in the past decade and coming from a FMCG background, I saw immense potential for the region as it shifts towards a more omnichannel strategy which requires a comprehensive O2O solution and supply chain services. This will allow me to tap on my prior experience and stay abreast of industry developments.”

The Perfect Blend of East and West, Online and Offline

To remain future-ready and competitive, Chris recognizes the need to acquire a diverse skill set and experience and Cainiao offers just the perfect platform for her to grow professionally.

“I have a passion for Chinese businesses and am able to value-add to businesses like Cainiao that are venturing into new and/or overseas markets. With my background in FMCG, I am able to tap on my eCommerce and logistics experience, and at the same time, serve as a bridge between Mainland China and Southeast Asia.”

Born in China but spent the last decade working and living in Singapore, Chris embodies the perfect blend of Eastern and Western cultures, and have a deeper appreciation of what works in Southeast Asian markets and how to communicate that to her stakeholders in China.

“The cultural and contextual knowledge about the distinct differences in business practices and frameworks between Singapore and China allowed me to successfully navigate the environment both internally and externally. I am able to distil information to better relate to stakeholders and get buy-in. This can range from partnership model to legal agreements — the area of work that we oversee and support can be very wide-ranging so it really requires a fair bit of agility and humility in order to successfully complete each project in a timely manner.”

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