The changing dynamics of the Chinese market have presented good opportunities for movers such as new Affiliate AMR International Relocation and increased the emphasis on benchmarking against the very highest quality. FIDI Focus speaks to company founder Allen Lu
FIDI Focus: What are the characteristics of the moving market in China?
Allen Lu: China’s moving market is mainly based on people from the foreign community, who are usually supported by their employer. Chinese consumers don’t generally move household goods overseas because there is a belief that it is not worth the expense. As a result, Chinese employers usually only support cash allowances for moving. However, this has been changing in recent years. Those Chinese companies that have been expanding globally have started or are planning to use outsourced global mobility.
Domestic and long-distance moving needs are very limited because of low demand in China. The country has not yet developed a good supply chain for long-distance moving, so there are no similar service models to van-line services in the US.
FF: How has the Chinese moving industry evolved over the past 10 years?
AL: There has been a significant shift from own infrastructure to a subcontracting model. The latter allows movers to focus on monitoring quality and reduces large monthly cash flows and expenses. There has also been big growth in the number and quality of international Chinese movers, which has made the market more diverse and created more choice for users. Shipment volumes are getting smaller. Younger assignees seem to prefer to ship less – so, sometimes, an air shipment is enough.
FF: What impact has COVID-19 had on moving?
AL: Many potential assignees have been unable to get a work permit over the past two years, so there has been a significant drop in inbound moving. If this continues for the long term, it will impact on outbound moving, too. The use of virtual survey technology has grown and some movers have made remote work possible for staff.
FF: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth in your market?
AL: Chinese companies expanding globally. Domestic consumers may present another big opportunity for quality movers in future years.
FF: How would you describe your business ethos?
AL: ‘Relocating your life’ is AMR’s business ethos. As other movers would agree, international moving is not forwarding, not shipping, not packaging, but a combination of these, and more. When we move people, we are touching their life.
FF: What are your main strengths as a company?
AL: Responsiveness, whether in reply to an enquiry or acting on an urgent move request. We believe this is the key to making an international mover successful.
We achieve this in two ways. Since we digitised in 2019, AMR has made use of remote work and virtual collaboration, wherever our employees are. This ensures that AMR has the technical capability to maintain each mover’s file remotely. This was a great advantage during the pandemic and kept disruption to a minimum.
It also enabled us to start offering AMR employees flexible working hours, so they can balance their work and life better. This makes them more adaptable and more able to accommodate customers’ and agents’ needs.
FF: Why did you decide to join FIDI?
AL: AMR has always been dedicated to improving quality, and aligning with the highest standards set by FIDI is the first step. This way, AMR will be in a better position to create more opportunities to work with top overseas movers, RMCs, local corporate clients, and consumers.
FF: Are you looking forward to playing an active role in the FIDI association?
AL: Yes, and we are looking forward to next year’s Cannes conference to communicate with fellow members, and for FIDI to hear AMR’s voice. We will also be able to catch up with old friends that we haven’t seen for a long time.
FF: What are the future challenges ahead?
AL: Post-pandemic uncertainty, disruption and the evolvement of mobility trends. The pandemic has brought several challenges, one of which is the shipping and container crisis, which might continue to affect many industries, including international moving.