Stop 2: Shenzhen

Arriving in Shenzhen, we saw how this relatively young boarder city to Hong Kong had literally grown over night.

Arriving in Shenzhen late in the evening, we saw how this relatively young boarder city to Hong Kong was literally growing over night.

Day 6: May 15, 2013 – Wes Bryant

One of the most interesting business cases our student group visited in China was Wal-Mart. I found the presentation to be very fascinating, and noticed that there were a significant amount of expats working in Wal-Mart’s Shenzhen headquarters. However, the most interesting part of this company visit had to be the ten-minute intermission.

During this time John, Daniel and I decided to take a brief walk around the corporate office to see what everyone was doing. As we walked around, this fellow approached us, his nametag read Greg Foran, which sounded very familiar. Greg talked to us for a while about some of the interesting problems Wal-Mart has encountered while in China, everything from a series of fatal in-store fights and stabbings to upcoming deals with Proctor & Gamble. I must admit that at this point of the conversation we found it strange he was telling us so much. After a few more minutes of speaking, Greg then asked if we were attending the meeting between Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble that afternoon. You should have seen his face when we admitted that we were just a bunch of well-dressed students, who ventured off from the traditional company tour, he clearly thought we were employees of Proctor & Gamble visiting the Wal-Mart office in China. After returning to our conference room I decided to look up this Greg guy. I looked at Lauren’s case study on Wal-Mart and found his name listed under company facts: Greg Foran, CEO of Wal-Mart China. John, Daniel, and I had just met the CEO, who had unwittingly told us numerous company secrets.

Following our meeting with Wal-Mart’s corporate office, our group walked through Sam’s Club in Shenzhen, which is the largest Sam’s club facility in the world. Unlike a Sam’s club in the US, you will find everything from uncooked crocodile to large squid in the market section of this store. Many items were distinctly marketed for Chinese consumers, including soybean snacks and giant boxes of green teas. Overall, I was fairly impressed by Sam’s clubs efforts in Shenzhen and I am proud that an American company is starting to rival Carrefour’s efforts in China.

Umbra was another interesting company presentation in which our student group learned how Umbra designs new products (everything from working with designers to sourcing the materials to making the physical product). After this presentation, our group was given a tour of the Umbra Factory just outside of Shenzhen. There we saw (much to my surprise, as an industrial engineering student) factory workers assembling many of the products by hand.

Group photo outside Wal-Mart and Sam's Club headquarters in Shenzhen.

Company visit at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

Day 6: May 15, 2013 – Kristina Chen

Our first company visit was to the Wal-Mart headquarters with Sam’s Club. There were several speakers for Wal-Mart that discussed a variety of topics including challenges of doing business in China, strategies for success in China and leadership. I found it really interesting that Shenzhen’s Sam Club is by far the biggest in the world. Wal-Mart in China has a strong focus on product and food safety because of the past sanitary issues that the country has encountered and continues to encounter. One of the challenges that Wal-Mart in China faces is what works in America may not necessarily work in China. Essentially, they have to differentiate and localize their products to their consumers, while providing safe and quality products at a low cost. The senior leadership in Wal-Mart has recently changed and there have been more females in leadership positions in China over the past few years. Wal-Mart is currently working on their marketing strategies because Chinese people are a different consumer to satisfy; they have come up with the Worry Free Campaign.

After the presentation, we took a tour of the Shenzhen Sam’s Club; it offered more products than what the Sam’s Club in America offers and it even sold crocodile meat. We ate a spicy lunch at a Szechuan Restaurant and then we headed to our next company visit, Umbra.

Henry, the Umbra Product Development Manager, spoke briefly about the company’s history, products and the opening of a second store in Shanghai this summer. Afterwards, everyone was given unique tea infusers as a gift. Then, we went to the Umbra factory to take a tour. It was interesting to see the working conditions of factory workers. The factory produces picture frames and curtain rods, which later will be shipped to Target and Bad, Bath & Beyond, stores all around the world.      

Factory tour of Umbra's facilities outside of Shenzhen.

Factory tour of Umbra’s facilities outside of Shenzhen.

Day 6: May 16, 2013 – Jennifer Sato

Our morning meeting was with Wal-Mart’s China division. Four different directors and managers gave us presentations on supply chain management, Sam’s Club in China, marketing strategy, and China expansion strategy. Wal-Mart has very clear goals for their future in China, and they have taken many steps to adapt the lifestyle differences between the American consumers versus the Chinese consumers. After the presentations, we were given a tour of the Sam’s Club that is located right next to the Shenzhen office. The Shenzhen Sam’s Club has sales of over 350 million USD per year, in comparison to a typical Sam’s Club that has sales of 150 million USD.

After a quick lunch, we got back on the bus to head to Umbra’s Shenzhen office. Umbra is a home décor design company that focuses on creating visually appealing and creative products for every room in the house. Their products are sold in stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. After a presentation in the office, we went to the factory where Umbra produces their products – about 1 hour outside of Shenzhen. We were able to walk through the factory and see the process of making different products the company designed.

We headed back to Shenzhen for a Cantonese family-style dinner with our entire group. I think Kristina, Shuyun, and I enjoyed it the most – in addition to about 10 other dishes, our tour guide ordered 2 whole sweet and sour fish for the 2 tables, and the three of us ate both of them because everyone else was too afraid of the fish head. 

Although it was pretty late when we returned, our tour guide brought us to a foot massage shop around the corner from our hotel. For only 50 RMB (less than 9 USD), we soaked our feet in ginger water and got an hour-long foot and back massage.

Group diner at Cantonese restaurant in Shenzhen.

Group diner at Cantonese restaurant in Shenzhen.