Zhi Zhang: Harnessing the Power of Momentum, Embracing the Waves of Reform and Innovation
The Chinese Internet industry has witnessed remarkable growth over the past three decades as Zhi Zhang has continued to build impactful technology.
Zhang has consistently been at the forefront of China’s transformation into a global technology powerhouse through “Internet +” with a spirit of exploration and a commitment to continuous innovation.
Through his contributions to the industry, he has shown intellectual acumen and a commitment to personal values.
Zhang has a wealth of experience and achievements in live streaming and social games before joining Trendsi.
As a founder of Trendsi, Zhang uses data intelligence to build a flexible supply chain and logistics infrastructure and is dedicated to automating manufacturing processes.
Ella Zhang, Trendsi’s co-founder and CEO, warmly welcomes Zhi Zhang to the company.
Addressing the challenges faced by overseas sellers, Ella Zhang highlights the significant geographical gap that exists between them and the intricate supply chain. This physical distance poses a critical issue in terms of effective inventory management. Failure to tackle this challenge can result in an excessive stockpile of inventory, detrimental effects on cash flow, and potentially even the unfortunate closure of a brand. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Zhang emphasizes the urgent need to find solutions that bridge this gap and ensure efficient inventory control for overseas sellers.
Zhi Zhang’s arrival will help the company’s logistics process become more efficient, according to her.
One-third of logistics costs are saved by precise data control
A logistics transition center is located in Los Angeles, New York, Guangzhou, and Shanghai for Trendsi, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.
A 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, Zhang is always busy. Providing cross-border new e-commerce logistics and supply chain integration, he ensures a smooth delivery experience for the company’s 100,000+ customers.
During his visit to China, Zhang was impressed by the country’s advanced flexible supply chain and well-established e-commerce fulfillment logistics infrastructure.
Small and medium retailers in the United States, however, still follow the traditional wholesale model of buying inventory first and then selling it.
A “primitive” business model can lead to hoarding, resulting in inventory shortages and excess. In response, Trendsi pioneered “Dropshipping” to solve this issue.
A complex logistics data scenario analysis with cost and time optimization goals is behind Trendsi’s “Dropshipping,” according to Zhang.
In the face of the enormous volume of daily packages being shipped from China to the United States, Zhang employs a straightforward yet powerful approach. Utilizing data analysis, he swiftly delves into cost and time variables, seeking scientific insights that lead to the discovery of optimal solutions. This strategic endeavor enables the company to achieve significant cost reductions while simultaneously enhancing delivery efficiency. By leveraging data-driven decision-making, Zhang ensures that Trendsi operates with utmost effectiveness in a highly competitive logistics landscape.
Most of these small packages contain only one item of clothing, are shipped across the ocean, packed in Los Angeles, and then sent to multiple locations across the country.
In this process, Zhang, who is responsible for the distribution center, acts as a highly skilled conductor, ensuring that every package reaches its destination on time and at a low cost.
While delivering packages on time may seem like a fundamental logistics requirement for Trendsi, Zhang’s forward-thinking approach has elevated the company’s logistics operations to new heights. While an experienced logistics management engineer could handle the task of timely deliveries, Zhang’s innovative use of logistics data analysis has taken Trendsi’s supply chain optimization to a whole new level. By delving deep into the data, Zhang has been able to uncover valuable insights and identify areas of improvement throughout the supply chain. This has led to the development of a logistics system that goes beyond simply meeting deadlines. Trendsi now boasts a more flexible, proactive, and efficient logistics framework that can adapt to changing demands and challenges. Zhang’s innovative use of logistics data analysis has truly transformed the company’s logistics operations, positioning Trendsi as a leader in the industry.
Under Zhang’s guidance, the North American logistics team thrived in their specialized roles, streamlining warehouse operations, logistics tracking, and route optimization. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies like big data and New Bing, they successfully slashed logistics costs by one-third across the United States. This strategic achievement bolstered Trendsi’s unique “fragmented order” supply chain model, guaranteeing unwavering quality and adherence to standards at every step of the logistics journey.
Moreover, Zhang has achieved impressive results through his “cross-border” participation in helping Chinese clothing companies sell B2B live streaming to Shopify sellers in North America. In regard to this, he said, “We understand that Shopify is attempting to transition from a direct-to-consumer business model to a consumer-connected business model, and we are pleased to be involved in this process.”
In the past decade, Zhang has worked hard to transition from a stable career to an entrepreneurial path, never losing sight of his goals and constantly improving himself.
Two entrepreneurial experiences transform the cosmetics industry, starting with L’Oreal
Armed with a degree in Economics and Management from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Zhang embarked on his professional journey at L’Oreal China, a company that had recently entered the Chinese market. Despite being a relatively new player in the industry, L’Oreal faced a significant hurdle in the form of an “inconsistent” distribution system and supply chain. These challenges had already led to a mere 1% market share and a 10% Year over Year capital occupation, posing a substantial obstacle for the company. Recognizing the magnitude of the task at hand, Zhang and his team understood the importance of addressing these issues head-on to drive growth, improve market position, and establish a solid foundation for future success.
In order to address the existing issues with L’Oreal’s distribution system, a dedicated “Change Management Department” was established, and Zhang was appointed to oversee the management of the IDS Distribution System. The team’s primary goal was to streamline and unify the diverse independent distribution companies, implementing a standardized approach to supply chain management. However, this undertaking was not without its share of challenges. Zhang succinctly summarized their journey as “Starting from scratch,” highlighting the immense task of building a cohesive and efficient distribution system from the ground up. Despite the obstacles encountered along the way, Zhang and his team remained resolute, recognizing the significance of their mission and the potential transformative impact it could have on L’Oreal’s market position and operational efficiency.
L’Oreal was unable to continue with the direct sales model that was already well established in the European and American markets because of local conditions and policies in China. Because of this, Zhang and his colleagues could not optimize distributors, distributor systems, and the entire supply chain without references or benchmarks. “It was like trying to write an important composition on a blank piece of paper, and the pressure was immense.”
A set of inventory software was developed by L’Oreal in partnership with a software company to help distributors improve their management. In the next year, however, the Change Management Department faced a challenging task of installing, training, and debugging data for more than 40 distributors nationwide while setting up a VMI team for software maintenance and management. Zhang’s work routine then became one of “either traveling for business or rushing to travel for business.”
Zhang’s dedicated efforts, alongside his team, yielded significant results. In 2002, their relentless work led to a remarkable sales increase of over 50%. Moreover, they successfully reduced distributor order shortages from 9% to an impressive 3%. The positive impact of their endeavors extended beyond sales figures, as the inventory days at L’Oreal’s Shanghai Waigaoqiao warehouse significantly decreased from 202 days in October 2001 to a mere 85 days in October 2002. These achievements stand as a testament to Zhang’s expertise in supply chain management and his ability to drive substantial improvements in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Zhang’s reform initiatives brought about a revolution in L’Oreal’s China market, leaving a lasting impact. By introducing transparency in sales information at the sales terminal, Zhang significantly streamlined market decision-making processes. This newfound transparency not only facilitated efficient decision-making but also alleviated the concerns of distributors regarding inventory accumulation. The CEO emphasized the importance of the company breaking free from distributor funding constraints, marking a significant milestone in L’Oreal’s journey. As a testament to their success, L’Oreal’s bad debt amount in 2001 amounted to only 21% of the previous year, showcasing the positive financial outcomes resulting from Zhang’s strategic reforms.
With profound knowledge and experience in supply chain management, Zhang departed L’Oreal after three years and embraced the world of entrepreneurship. Driven by his inner calling, he embarked on a remarkable journey, forging a legendary path in the realm of business and creating an era-defining myth.
Based on the National Entertainment Era, Zhang and two other partners founded Shanghai Ruishen Computer Technology Co., Ltd. in 2003. We pioneered online karaoke in China with our early business offering value-added software like voice ordering and automatic accompaniment for karaoke.
Despite having a “big dream,” Zhang Zhi and his team faced the constraint of a “small wallet.” Starting with a mere RMB 30,000 as their startup capital, sustaining regular operations became a daunting task. Within six months of the company’s establishment, they encountered their first financial challenge. Zhang vividly remembers the heart-wrenching experience of withdrawing his last hundred RMB from the bank, keeping it in his pocket while discussing potential angel investments. The memory of those hardships during the “life and death line” continues to move him deeply even years later.
Despite encountering numerous obstacles and navigating the transition from a local area network to the internet, Zhang Zhi and his dedicated team triumphantly introduced “51mike.com” in 2005. This unique platform, offering online karaoke and personalized music space, quickly attracted a staggering user base of over 100,000 individuals. Remarkably, Zhang Zhi attributes this achievement to a minimalistic marketing approach, simply posting a message on the Tsinghua University BBS.
After receiving the prestigious title of “China’s Most Popular Music Community Website in 2006” and being acknowledged as one of the “Top 100 Chinese Websites in 2006,” this platform gained immense popularity in China. Within just one year, it attracted a remarkable user base of over 2.5 million registered users, with more than 600,000 active users, and displayed a steady monthly growth rate of 20%. Impressively, 51mike.com averaged over 1.2 million daily page views and boasted an exceptional 98% user retention rate.
Tragically, the website’s journey came to an end in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, as crippling financial constraints forced its closure. Zhang Zhi openly acknowledges the bitter taste of “failure” that lingers within him, knowing that success was within his grasp, slipping away in the final moments. However, fueled by an unyielding spirit, he embraced the challenge and redirected his efforts towards the uncharted realm of the gaming industry, even though it was unfamiliar territory for him. Undeterred by the obstacles ahead, he forged ahead with unwavering determination, navigating the unpredictable landscape for an impressive span of 14 years.
Continuing on his entrepreneurial journey, Zhang Zhi nurtured the “seeds of innovation” that had the potential to change the world. His game company primarily specialized in casual and puzzle games, with notable successes such as “Dragon Palace Treasure Hunt,” which soared in popularity under the publishing partnership with Kuwo. Additionally, “Jackie Chan Fishing” garnered a remarkable number of downloads on both Android and iOS platforms. Zhang proudly shared that “Dragon Palace Treasure Hunt” boasted over ten million registered users, with an impressive daily active player count ranging from 500,000 to 600,000. It was evident that Zhang’s passion for creating engaging gaming experiences was resonating with a vast audience..
While Zhang’s entrepreneurial journey brought him financial success, he acknowledged the role of luck in his endeavors, feeling that it eluded him at times. The remarkable figures he achieved were a testament to his company’s success, with a monthly turnover reaching an impressive 60 million during its peak. However, challenges arose when the country imposed stricter regulations on game ISBN codes amidst the epidemic, forcing his company to cease operations. Despite his financial stability, Zhang’s unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of his dreams led him to embark on a new path, fueled by a desire for personal fulfillment rather than mere financial freedom.
Zhang’s transition from a professional to an entrepreneur and now a serial entrepreneur has been marked by a remarkable journey of triumphs and setbacks. His diverse experiences, ranging from his time at L’Oreal where he gained expertise in fashion and supply chain management, to his venture into the online world with 51mike.com and his insights in the gaming industry, have all contributed to his extensive knowledge and skills. It is this wealth of experience and expertise that led Trendsi to recognize Zhang’s capabilities and appoint him as their North American Logistics Head. In this role, he brings his deep understanding of logistics and supply chain management to drive Trendsi’s expansion and success in the North American market, showcasing his ability to adapt and thrive in diverse industries.
“Stepping into the realm of entrepreneurship at a young age, I was brimming with enthusiasm and passion, yet unaware of the true essence it held,” Zhang reflected upon his early days as an entrepreneur. However, it was through his journey with 51mike.com and his venture into the gaming industry that Zhang began to delve deeper into the spiritual core of entrepreneurship. It was during this transformative process that he came to a profound realization – that the true essence of entrepreneurship lies in the ability to positively impact the lives of others and bring about meaningful change. “Our collective efforts have the power to uplift and enrich the lives of individuals, and that, to me, encapsulates the true essence of entrepreneurship,” Zhang passionately expressed.
During his tenure at Trendsi and through his involvement with live broadcasts, Zhang encountered a truly inspiring individual named Wendi. Hailing from a small town in Ohio, Wendi, a remarkable mother of eleven children, had a heartwarming story to share. Not only did she have four biological children of her own, but she also selflessly adopted seven more, with four from China, three from South Korea, and three from Africa. Wendi’s extraordinary journey didn’t stop there. Alongside her role as a buyer for a fashion brand, she also leveraged the power of Trendsi’s products to generate additional income for her family, ultimately transforming it into their primary source of livelihood. Wendi’s unwavering dedication and entrepreneurial spirit left a profound impression on Zhang, serving as a powerful reminder of the incredible impact that can be achieved through resilience and resourcefulness.
Prior to Trendsi, juggling the demands of merchandising, warehousing, sales, and logistics alongside the responsibilities of raising a family proved to be an overwhelming task for many mompreneurs like Wendi. However, with the advent of Trendsi, a transformation took place. The platform provided invaluable support and resources, enabling these resilient women to not only excel in their entrepreneurial pursuits but also find a sense of fulfillment and financial stability. Witnessing the positive impact on countless mompreneurs and their families, Zhang and his team were further motivated to continue their mission of empowering these remarkable individuals. Recognizing the challenges involved, they remained resolute in their commitment to undertake this “difficult but right thing,” driven by the belief that every mompreneur deserves the opportunity to thrive and be acknowledged for their exceptional worth.
Though Zhang may be one of many internet entrepreneurs, he has worked almost two decades to ensure that each of his roles is exemplary. Through his foresight, perseverance, and bravery in embracing innovation, he has been able to reach his future goals. It is challenging for Zhang to change the world and benefit society, but he remains resolute about continuing this journey despite the challenges.