Opening up trade with China on the digital silk road
Guest Blog: David Hamstead, CEO, Samarkand Global
We started Samarkand in late 2016 with a vision to make cross-border eCommerce with the world’s largest but most complex market, China, more accessible for international brands of all sizes. We initially operated primarily on a B2B basis but the vision was always to leverage technologies to allow brands to sell much more directly to consumers in China than had previously been possible.
Our business could be considered in three different core activities: the ecommerce and export services that we provide to third party clients, a technology division which is creating the software and solutions powering this new form of cross border commerce, and thirdly a brand ownership division where we are investing or acquiring brands with low growth in their domestic markets but high growth potential in international markets. The brand ownership division also enables us to rapid test and iterate our software products for cross-border eCommerce innovations.
The technology we have created is a proprietary software platform named the Nomad platform which is integrated with all the necessary touchpoints for cross border ecommerce including marketplaces, payment systems, logistics providers and customs ports. The Nomad platform is the foundation on which our Nomad technology and service solutions are built. The core products include Nomad Checkout, Nomad Storefront and Nomad Distribution.
In March 2021, almost exactly 4 years after our first export sale, we became a publicly listed company in an oversubscribed IPO on the Aquis Growth Stock Exchange in London. Our target was to raise £10 million, however due to high investor demand we increased that to £17 million with strong support from both institutional and private investors. In May 2021 we received an additional £3.1m investment from SF Express, one of China's leading express logistics companies. This investment allows us to continue our vision of making world’s largest but most complex eCommerce market accessible to more international merchants.
More recently the we have expanded into other Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea, successfully delivering on the Group’s stated growth strategy. In June 2021 we opened our office in Tokyo and In October we announced that Amorepacific, one of South Korea’s largest beauty conglomerates, would use our Nomad Checkout technology to power a new direct-to-consumer eCommerce site aimed at Chinese consumers shopping cross-border.
As we continue to grow, our original vision of making it easier for international brands to sell in complex markets has become more relevant than ever. Merchants face many challenges, especially during the pandemic, but there are also huge opportunities and export markets outside of the UK which are very receptive to innovative, interesting, and high-quality products. Over 50% of all ecommerce transactions globally now happen in China. It is larger than the next 10 eCommerce markets combined. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers receptive to products from international brands, but it is also the most challenging market for merchants to access which is where we come in.
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