China South City is a complex just outside Pinghu, Shenzhen that allows manufacturers to showcase their wares. Think Hannover Messe but as a full-time stand. It is populated with paper salesmen, pallets of raw plastic from chemical companies, fabrics companies and factories that churn out garments and accessories.
Many of the halls look like Smithfields market on steroids, but the newest building which opened up a couple of months ago here looks like the mother-of-all-shopping-malls lies empty.
Is this multi-storey behemoth a white elephant? I don’t know, if they can keep it open long enough I think it will fill up with vendors over time. In addition to the real-world options for networking and customer education, China South City also provides an online marketplace for the firms similar in nature to Alibaba.
The real-world world meeting option allows customers to find out about the tangible qualities that a web page can’t tell you with sufficient precision. How doe the leather in the handbag feel, what is the tension like in stitching between two fabric pieces. Allowing the two parties to meet in the real-world helps engender trust so that repurchases could happen online inside. I was pretty impressed by this multi-channel offering.
‘Ren chi’ is a Chinese phrase that my friends used to describe the deciding factor of the complex’ likely success -it roughly translates as ‘people energy’. The property developers seem to be very conscious of this so are opening up the centre to tour groups despite the fact that the centre is wholesale. The exhibition hall onsite serves as a sports centre for the locality and spare car park space has been turned into basketball courts to keep young people in the area and top-up the ‘people energy’ deficit.