Thursday, June 13, 2024

From Chicago to Shenzhen: What can we learn from China?

Share this article:

It's been a while since our last trip to China, and we were amazed by how much it has changed. I’d like to share some of the surprising and interesting things we experienced during our visit.

1. Everyone moves quickly, even the elevator.

Having been in the Midwest for a long time, I’m used to the pace here, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I simply forgot how efficient it can be in Shenzhen. Shops are built within walking distance. Within an hour, I can get everything done: going to the bank, getting a new phone number, eating at a restaurant, and shopping for the essentials.

From Chicago to Shenzhen: What can we learn from China: December Steps in Chicago From Chicago to Shenzhen: What can we learn from China: January Steps in Shenzhen

Left: December steps in Chicago.
Right: January steps in Shenzhen.

2. No one is using cash anymore.

It’s been like this for a while, but during my recent visit, they couldn’t even provide change for us. Now, every transaction relies on QR codes. To keep our phones charged, there are charging stations everywhere, and we can easily borrow a battery at any restaurant. It creates a natural cycle—you pay your restaurant bills and battery rentals with your phone.

3. Service is so much nicer.

Service workers in China work incredibly hard. Given the volume of people they serve every day, I observe that they can easily make over 100 of those popular iced tea drinks within an hour, and they don’t even expect any tips. Shops don’t typically close at 8:30 like in most American cities. Many convenience stores in the neighborhood are open 24 hours. I’m also noticing a trend where retail stores are thinking long term and focusing on retaining their best customers.

4. Train stations are always connected to the malls.

From Chicago to Shenzhen: What can we learn from China: Map of the Shenzhen metro system, highlighting various lines and connections. Key lines include the Luobao Line (green), Shekou Line (orange), Longgang Line (blue), and Huanzhong Line (brown). Major stations such as Shenzhen North Station, Futian, and Hongshuwan are shown, along with links to Hong Kong. The map details the extensive network connecting shopping centers, business districts, and neighborhoods across the city, emphasizing the city's integrated and efficient public transport system.

* As of a recent data from Wikipedia: There are 16 lines in the Shenzhen Metro system, and they are still building. Accommodating over 5 million passengers each day.

One of the major reasons why everything is so connected is the way public transportation is built. Train stations are closely integrated with shopping centers, offices, schools, and neighborhoods. They don’t run 24 hours, and every night, cleaning crews come in to clean the trains. Another key aspect is that the ticket price is based on both the distance traveled and the time spent on the train. The Shenzhen metro in itself is a miracle. Like the cherry on top of the ice cream. As soon as you exit the trains, bikeshare options are conveniently available right there for you.

Chicago is different, with the Loop primarily serving as a business district, and neighborhoods remaining separate. Train stations are often surrounded by parking lots, and residents are hesitant to take the trains at night.

There are many great things we can be proud of as Americans. At the same time, Shenzhen has not only survived the pandemic but has also reached new heights of growth and efficiency.

As the founder of Receipt-AI. I find myself questioning:

Am I working hard enough? Can I work harder?

What steps can I take to make our system more connected and efficient?

What is the most effective long-term solution for our company?

And most importantly, how can we contribute to make our country better?

start up


Shenzhen speed

global perspectives

receipt ai

Related Articles

Start uploading Receipts using SMS.

Save 97% of your time with efficient receipt processing

Works with Xero and QuickBooks

Perfect for businesses, big and small

No extra app downloads. Works with tools you already have (Email and SMS)

Start texting receipts →
A working professional traveling at a client site smiles as he takes a photo of a receipt with his smartphone. He plans to upload the receipt using SMS and Receipt-AI, which is integrated with Xero or QuickBooks, while sitting in a cozy café environment. Indicating the ease of using the app.
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.layouts.footer.alt">Alt</span>

We value simplicity.

What's new? Accounting Tips, Product News & Stories

2024 Receipt AI - Big Green Company Terms Privacy