Entering the Chinese PLM Market: Detailed Insights

In early March, a delegation from C3D Labs traveled to the land of dragons and pandas to participate in the Smart Production Solutions 2024 (SPS) international expo in Guangzhou, in the south of the People's Republic of China.

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For C3D colleagues, this trip was not the first time they had traveled to China. Last November, C3D Labs already visited Shanghai and Shenzhen on a business mission.

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The Smart Production Solutions exhibition was included in the short list of activities of the Ministry of Industry and Trade for Russian companies planning to enter the Chinese and Asian markets.

The participation of C3D Labs was a logical step to start and strengthen the project to enter external markets with complex engineering solutions for industry.

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The exhibition was held March 4-6 at the China Import and Export Fair Complex (The Canton Fair Complex). It is worth noting that this is one of the largest venues in the world for an event of this nature. The scale of the event was evident. C3D Labs was part of a three-day experience sharing and presenting their solutions to the local industrial community.

It is worth saying a few words about the venue of the exhibition. According to Wikipedia Guangzhou is the political, economic, scientific, technological, educational, cultural, and transportation center of southern China. Guangzhou, with a population of over 14 million, is the third largest city in China, behind only Shanghai and Beijing. The city is the largest tourist, industrial, financial, and transportation center of South China. Guangzhou is an important financial center, with offices of Chinese and international banks, and insurance and financial companies based here.

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All the facts above give us an idea about the Smart Production Solutions exhibition. It is one of the key events for creating and supporting business relationships within China.

C3D Labs was an exhibitor at the event with its booth. We were the only company from Russia and stood out from the Chinese companies around us. All three days of the exhibition were full of communication and learning about their culture, traditions, and peculiarities of doing business. In turn, the stand presented information not only about our products but also part of our Russian symbols: chocolates and toffees. The sweets were a colossal success with the Chinese and our compatriots who passed by the booth.

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Colleagues from C3D Labs share their emotions and impressions of the business trip below.

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Ekaterina Sukhodolskaya, External Sales Development Manager, C3D Labs:

"Guangzhou is a big modern city, with wide streets, parks, and avenues. The center looks very presentable and beautiful, and the ancient temples and buildings are also impressive. A lot of young people are on the streets, apparently, often people come to work in Guangzhou one of the main economic centers of the country.

The exhibition pavilions were in full swing until the evening of the day before the exhibition, so we should not hurry to accept the stand. Nevertheless, everything was ready on time and organized quite well. The show organizers were not supportive of the visa proceedings, but the existing customer C3D Labs from Shanghai promptly helped.

As for meetings and negotiations at the exhibition - it was very right to invite an interpreter, in most cases it is useless to talk in English. They don't plan to learn English, they'll wait for us to learn Chinese."

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Denis Statsenko, Head of Product Marketing Department, C3D Labs:

"The first question guests asked at the booth was whether you have a representative or partner in China. And there are several reasons for this, the first is the difficulty of translation. Not many people know English in China. Although our translator helped us out a lot, the Chinese want to communicate in their language, much less do business. The second reason is import substitution. China has its own, and it is very difficult for foreign companies to bring their products out and compete with either the already present global players or emerging local developers.

And while new developers are just starting to enter the CAD market, in the market for CAM, 3D printers, and 3D scanners, things have already gone a bit ahead. We see this from the requests that come to us for C3D Toolkit testing and from the contacts we had at the show. The reason for being ahead of the curve is that a lot of companies produce this kind of equipment and machine tools are made in China. They are expanding their lineup with related software, and import substitution provides an additional incentive.

Besides the difficulties of translation, there is a different approach to communication. Contacts are preferred to be exchanged in WeChat (an analog of WhatsApp), and not all our colleagues managed to install it. The Chinese internet is closed and doesn't let everyone in. It interferes both in everyday life - Google services don't work, not all external sites open, and in work life - to answer incoming mail, I had to connect to a server of another country via VPN.

If you ignore the difficulties with communication, payments, and internet services, Guangzhou is a very interesting and modern city. A metropolis combining skyscrapers and ancient pagodas. Neon signs on high-rises and street food stands with counter-service vending. Lots of electric vehicles and unceremonious driving of scooters across cars and pedestrians.

I was surprised by the large number of subway workers at the stations. Entire dispatch centers operate at interchange hubs, with workers directing and regulating the flow of people depending on the station's load.

The local cuisine is a separate adventure. There's a lot to say about this, but the main thing to know is that in Guangzhou, it's not Peking duck, it's Cantonese goose.

The trip was very intense, but I still wanted to go home at the end."

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Oksana Lobodanova, Head of Marketing, C3D Labs:

"China surprises with its scope, industrialization, and technology. This country skillfully combines Asian culture and tradition with glimpses of Western influence on modern metropolitan life.

The marketing task in this project was not only to organize participation in the Smart Production Solutions expo but also to get acquainted with the country with which the goal was to build business relations. For me, there was one question: how to embed C3D's geometric kernel into the current industry agenda? I found the answer: the key is to understand China's cultural values and the needs of complex engineering developers. Through communication with the exhibition organizers, hotel staff, booth guests, and random people on the subway, you begin to understand, at least a fraction of a percent, how they receive and process information. China is a digitized country, not being in the online space means not existing in the potential market at all.

I paid very close attention to the cuisine of China. It can be described as combining the incongruous. The cult of food in the country is unequivocally present, to suit all tastes and budgets. My gastronomic discoveries are durian pizza and salted cheese waffles.

Entering the Chinese market is a challenging and interesting task for ASCON and C3D Labs. Only communication and personal presence in this market give insight into where and how to move. Only through respect for partners and potential customers can we come to cooperation and build business relationships."