Entering a Bluetronics electronics store in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Mr. Tinh, a Vietnamese who has been living in Cambodia for four years, felt comfortable, with enthusiastic employees, and a 5-star shopping experience, which was different from some stores there. "The feeling when visiting a Vietnamese store in a foreign land is hard to tell," Tinh said.

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A Bluetronics store in Cambodia.

Vietnamese services and wisdom

Viettel and FPT have achieved certain success when going abroad, while Mobile World is the first representative of Vietnam's retail industry to go to the regional market, with Cambodia as the first in its journey to conquer Southeast Asia.

The chain of Bluetronics of Mobile World includes about 50 stores, covering 13 of 25 provinces and cities in Cambodia. This chain takes the lead in Cambodia in the number of stores and sales in the retail technology segment.

After gaining successes on the domestic market, Vietnamese businesses are more confident to bring their services and products abroad. After more than 25 years providing local firms with accounting software, Misa currently holds about 50 percent of the segment for small and medium-sized businesses.

Five years ago, the company decided to export its restaurant management software named Cukcuk. This Make-in-Vietnam product has been used in 15 countries, including developed ones such as the US, UK, France, Japan, Germany, and Australia.

Vinsmart is also the story of rapid expansion into overseas markets. After holding a certain domestic market share (ranked third in smartphone sales), Vinsmart immediately went abroad, taking 5G as its core.

 
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Vsmart phone is launched in Spain.

Le Thi Thu Thuy - Vingroup Vice President & General Director of Vinsmart – said that 5G is the biggest and most obvious opportunity with a new player like Vinsmart. Moreover, Vinsmart is similar in starting point with most technology companies or manufacturers in the 5G ecosystem. The company has invested tens of millions of US dollars to build a research and development team, and to purchase 5G technology copyright, to be autonomous in both design and production of equipment for the 5G ecosystem.

Vsmart phones are available in the markets of Spain, Russia, Myanmar and the US.

Not only Vietnamese big corporations, but also small and medium enterprises have strived to reach out to the world market.

HMGpop started its business in 2013 from selling 3D cards to small stores, then promoting online sales to gradually become one of the three largest Vietnamese providers of 3D cards.

On Amazon, its products regularly hold the top spots in the Card category. HMGpop used to receive up to 1,300 orders per day. The company also recorded a growth rate of 100% on Amazon last year, and sales from Amazon accounted for 30% of its total revenue.

Throwing stones to find the way

It is easy to see that FPT, Viettel, Mobile World, or Vinsmart are the first Vietnamese businesses expanding their business overseas.

At the time Mobile World entered the Cambodian market, mobile phones that were illegally imported occupied a large share in this market. It was very hard for the BigPhone chain to compete with local phone stores as they imported genuine goods and sold them at listed prices. They tried and failed constantly to find the right model, and then replicate it on a large scale.

When Mobile World started going abroad, FPT Group had had 20 years of experience of investing overseas. This group had to accept tasks in the low value chain. To overcome the barrier of language, the company tried to improve the quality of its human resources through organizing Japanese language training programs for its employees.

After a period of time, the FPT Group has become the largest foreign IT company in Japan in terms of human resources with more than 1,500 employees working in 11 offices in this country, and more than 7,000 Vietnamese employees involved in projects for Japanese customers.

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FPT Group’s employees at the office in Manila, the Philippines.

In manufacturing of mobile phones, Vietnamese brand Mobiistar in mid-2018 entered the Indian market. Mobiistar smartphones were sold on Flipkart, the largest e-commerce site in India, and had an agent system in many provinces in India. However, this company had to leave this billion-people market a year later because its partner was bankrupt.

Vinsmart is another Vietnamese brand that has made rapid progress in the overseas market. Like its predecessors, Vinsmart has taken a solid step.

It firstly sold smartphones in Spain, the home country of BQ - the partner that Vinsmart had acquired a majority of shares in. It then entered Myanmar, where it cooperated with Mytel (Viettel) and a domestic carrier. Vinsmart also went to Russia before officially entering the US, where it marketed three models of smartphones for AT&T with prices ranging from $39 to $89.

Digital transformation creates a competitive advantage

Before digital transformation became a development goal in Vietnam and the world, Mobile World had built a technology system to manage its retail chains. In 2004-2005, when Vietnamese businesses still used Excel in management tasks, Mobile World invested in a technology system to manage a few stores in Ho Chi Minh City. This technology platform then helped this chain expand rapidly.

Digital transformation is also the foundation mentioned by FPT Group as a factor to enhance competition.

Three years ago, FPT bought Intelinet, the leading US technology consulting company, to build its capacity towards the goal of becoming the world's leading firm in providing digital transformation services. To prepare sufficient resources, FPT opened big centers in Vietnam, the Philippines, India and Costa Rica to meet the needs of foreign customers in terms of both human resources and the time of project implementation.

Taking initiative in digital transformation, with internationally recognized IT forces, plus achievements in the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnamese businesses are facing great opportunities on the global playing field, as Minister Ministry of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said at a forum on developing Vietnam’s tech-firms: "Vietnam is the cradle for technology businesses to go global to solve global problems. Using human technology will bring Vietnam to the world."

Diep Luu

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