Zhi Zhang: Seize the Momentum, Becoming a “Surfrider” in the Era of Reform and Innovation
SHANGHAI, May 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — U.S. supply chain innovation technology company Trendsi announces the appointment of Zhi Zhang as Head of North America Logistics.
Zhi Zhang is a well-recognized entrepreneur in the Chinese Internet industry, where he has gained remarkable growth as keep building impactful technology to make changes the past three decades.
With a spirit of exploration and a deep dedication to continuous innovation, Zhang has consistently found himself at the forefront of this transformative journey, witnessing China’s ascent as a global technology powerhouse through the “Internet +”.
His contributions have been instrumental in shaping the industry, showcasing his intellectual acumen and personal principles.
Prior to joining Trendsi, Zhang was a successful entrepreneur with a wealth of experience and achievements in live streaming and social games.
Now, with Trendsi, Zhang is applying data intelligence to build a flexible supply chain and logistics infrastructure and is dedicated to filling the gaps in manufacturing automation.
Trendsi’s co-founder and CEO, Ella Zhang, warmly welcomes Zhi Zhang’s joining their team.
According to her, generally, the overseas sellers are far from the supply chain so that inventory is an issue which they should pay attention to. Or it can lead to a series of consequences such as the overload of inventory, poor cash flow, and even the brand’s closure.
She said that Zhi Zhang’s coming will help to improve the company’s efficiency in the logistics process.
Precise Data Control, Saves One-Third of Logistics Costs
Trendsi, headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, has logistics transition centers in Los Angeles, New York, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.
Zhang is constantly busy with his responsibilities in this fast-growing venture backed company that pioneered the DaaS (Dropshipping as a Service) model and provides SaaS-based store software tools with integrated goods and services.
He is responsible for ensuring the smooth delivery experience of the company’s 100,000+ customers within the framework of “providing logistics and supply chain integration for cross-border new e-commerce.”
Zhang is impressed by China’s advanced flexible supply chain and well-established e-com fulfillment logistics infrastructure, which is already in place.
However, in the United States, small and medium retailers still follow the traditional wholesale model, which buy inventory first and then sell it.
This “primitive” business model can lead to hoarding, which can cause inventory shortages and excess. In response, Trendsi pioneered the use of “Dropshipping” to solve this pain point. Implementing this initiative also put higher requirements on Zhang and his team.
Zhang’s interpretation of Trendsi’s “Dropshipping” is that “it is not limited to the supply and demand relationship between the supplier and the demand side. Behind it, there is a complex logistics data scenario analysis with cost and time optimization goals.”
In simple terms, when Zhang faces tens of thousands of packages sent from China to the United States every day, he must quickly use data analysis to cut into cost and time factors to obtain scientific variables, thereby finding the optimal solution that can help the company reduce costs and increase delivery efficiency.
Those small packages, most of which have only one piece of clothing inside, are shipped across the ocean, and are packed in Los Angeles, and then sent to multiple locations in the United States.
During this process, Zhang, who is in charge of the distribution center, is like a highly skilled conductor, processing the routing data to ensure every package reaches its destination on time at a continuously optimized cost.
Objectively speaking, if Trendsi’s logistics requirement is only about “delivering on time”, then an experienced logistics management engineer is sufficient. However, Zhang’s expertise lies in his innovative use of logistics data analysis, which has enabled intelligent logistics operations for the entire supply chain, resulting in a more flexible, proactive, and efficient logistics system for Trendsi.
Through data-driven decision-making, he has also identified more optimal logistics routes for the company, leading to a nearly one-third reduction in logistics costs in the United States using big data and New Bing. Under Zhang’s leadership, the North American logistics team of 30 individuals excelled in their respective specialized functions such as warehouse operations, logistics tracking, and route optimization. This has greatly contributed to the company’s “fragmented order” supply chain model, ensuring high standards and quality throughout the logistics process.
At the same time, Zhang’s “cross-border” participation in helping Chinese clothing companies provide B2B live streaming sales to North American Shopify sellers has also achieved impressive results. Regarding this, he said, “We have seen that Shopify is seeking to transition from a ‘direct-to-consumer’ to a ‘consumer-connected’ business model and are also happy to participate in this process of transformation.”
Zhang’s expertise in the areas of the internet, big data, fashion, and supply chain did not come easily. He has worked hard over the past decade to transition from a stable career to an entrepreneurial path, never losing sight of his goals and constantly improving himself.
Starting with L’Oreal, Two Entrepreneurial Experiences Spark Industry Changes
Zhang graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a degree in Economics and Management. He kickstarted his career at L’Oreal China, which had only been in the Chinese market three years. Despite being in the market for a short period, the company’s “inconsistent” distribution system and supply chain had already resulted in a 1% market share and a 10% YoY capital occupation, which was a significant challenge.
To address this issue, L’Oreal established a “Change Management Department,” and Zhang was assigned as the IDS Distribution System Manager. The team’s goal was to unify various independent distribution companies and implement the same supply chain management approach. However, they faced various obstacles along the way, and Zhang summarized their experience in three words: Starting from scratch.
“Firstly, due to China’s local conditions and policies, L’Oreal was unable to continue with the direct sales model that was already well-established in the European and American markets,” Zhang added. This meant that Zhang and his colleagues had no reference or benchmark for optimizing distributors, distributor systems, and the entire supply chain. “It was like trying to complete a very important composition on a blank sheet of paper, and the pressure was immense.”
To help distributors improve their management, L’Oreal partnered with a software company to develop a set of applicable inventory software. However, over the next year or so, installing, training, and debugging data for over 40 distributors nationwide while setting up a VMI team specifically for software maintenance and management proved to be a rigorous task for the Change Management Department. At that stage, Zhang’s work routine became a constant cycle of “either business traveling or rushing to business travel.”
Zhang was delighted that his and his team’s hard work eventually paid off. In 2002, sales increased by more than 50% compared to the previous year, but distributor order shortages decreased from 9% to 3%. Furthermore, the inventory days of L’Oreal’s Shanghai Waigaoqiao warehouse decreased from 202 days in October 2001 to 85 days the following year.
According to Zhang, the reform had a significant impact on L’Oreal’s China market, revolutionizing the entire supply chain. The transparency of sales information at the sales terminal greatly aided in market decision-making, and distributors were relieved of inventory accumulation issues. “What is especially important is that the company is beginning to break free from the constraints of distributor funds. The most intuitive point is that in 2001, L’Oreal’s bad debt amount was only 21% of the previous year.”
After three years at L’Oreal, Zhang left with extensive knowledge and experience in supply chain management, venturing into entrepreneurship and embarking on a new journey. He bravely followed his inner calling and embarked on the unknown path of entrepreneurship, creating a business myth for the times.
In 2003, inspired by the “National Entertainment Era,” Zhang and two other partners invested RMB 30,000 to establish Shanghai Ruishen Computer Technology Co., Ltd. “Our early business provided value-added software such as voice ordering and automatic accompaniment for karaoke, which can be said to have pioneered online karaoke in China.”
Back then, although Zhang Zhi and his team had a “big dream”, they also had to deal with the financial constraints of a “small wallet”. With only RMB 30,000 as start-up capital, it was difficult to maintain normal operations. In fact, the company faced its first financial hurdle just six months after starting up. “I still remember withdrawing his last hundred RMB from the bank, and then holding it in my pocket to discuss an angel investment, which felt very tragic and was a heartbreaking moment.” Years later, when he recalled the struggles of the “life and death line”, he is still moved by the hardships he faced in those critical moments.
Despite numerous setbacks and the switch from a local area network to the internet, Zhang Zhi and his team launched “51mike.com” in 2005. The company’s core products were online karaoke and personalized music space, which quickly amassed over 100,000 registered users. What Zhang Zhi is most proud of is that they achieved this success without any market promotion. “The only thing we did was to post a message on the BBS of Tsinghua University.”
This website gained popularity in China after it was named “China’s Most Popular Music Community Website in 2006″ and recognized as one of the “Top 100 Chinese Websites in 2006.” It attracted over 2.5 million registered users within a year, with more than 600,000 active users, and was growing at a rate of 20% each month. In addition, “51mike.com” had a daily average of over 1.2 million page views and an impressive 98% user retention rate.
“We had already survived the difficult start-up stage at that time. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties after the 2008 financial crisis, the website was forced to shut down. ” Zhang Zhi does not hesitate to talk about “failure”, but this “failure” of “falling one second before success” has really left him with a lot of hard feelings. Despite this setback, he remained determined and pivoted his focus towards the gaming industry, which he was not familiar with. But he persisted for the next full 14 years.
Never stop, change the world with “seeds of innovation”
The game company founded by Zhang mainly focuses on casual and puzzle games. The “Dragon Palace Treasure Hunt” developed by “Kuwo” as the publishing partner has achieved great results. The other, “Jackie Chan Fishing”, has also received a very high download rate on Android and iOS. “‘Dragon Palace Treasure Hunt‘ has more than 10 million registered users, and an average of 500,000 to 600,000 online players every day.” Zhang said.
The impressive figures reflect a monthly turnover of around 60 million that the company achieved during its peak period. Zhang was candid in stating that he did well financially during his entrepreneurial journey, but he lacked a bit of luck. Unfortunately, his company had to press the pause button due to the country’s tightened approval of the ISBN code system for games during the epidemic. Despite having financial freedom, Zhang opted to start a new path because of his unwavering determination to achieve his dreams.
From being a professional to an entrepreneur, and later, becoming a serial entrepreneur, Zhang has experienced both highs and lows, yet remained steadfast. His previous experiences, which include his involvement in fashion and the supply chain sector while working for L’Oreal, his immersion in the internet and live broadcasts on 51mike.com, and his analysis of user data when he ran a game company, have all contributed to his deep knowledge and expertise, and finally contributed to being hired as the Head of North American Logistics at Trendsi.
“During my first foray into entrepreneurship, I was young and enthusiastic, but admittedly naive about what it truly meant to be an entrepreneur.” Later on, while running “51mike.com” and founding a game company, Zhang spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the spiritual core of entrepreneurship. Through this process, Zhang came to realize that “Our efforts could greatly benefit others and improve their lives. This, to me, is the true essence of entrepreneurship. “
Zhang was impressed by a live-streaming seller named Wendi during work with Trendsi’s live broadcasts. “Wendi, a mother of eleven children from a small town in Ohio, had 4 of her own children and adopted 7 children, 4 from China, and 3 from South Korea, and Africa. She worked as a buyer for a fashion brand company while also utilizing Trendsi’s supply of goods to boost her family’s income, which became the main source of income for this family.”
Prior to the existence of Trendsi, it was highly unlikely that a mother would be able to manage merchandising, warehousing, sales, and logistics while also taking care of her family by herself. With the aid of Trendsi, many “mompreneurs” now enjoy a fulfilling job with ample income and recognize their worth in life. “This is one of the reasons why we are committed to doing this ‘difficult but right thing’.”
In the age of internet entrepreneurship, Zhang may be one of many, but he has dedicated almost two decades of hard work to ensure that each of his roles is exemplary. His foresight in identifying current trends, perseverance in overcoming obstacles, and bravery in embracing innovation have propelled him toward his aspirations for the future. Although challenging, his path of changing the world and benefiting society is meaningful, and Zhang remains resolute in continuing this journey.