How a Gen Z entrepreneur turned the tide with Lazada – Part 1

Reading time: 7 minutes

In today’s society, there are typically three generations: the baby boomers, the millennials and the generation Z. As a generation that was born with the internet and raised with mobile technology, Gen Z has grown accustomed to seeking solutions and answers independently.

Enter Yu Ruiqi, a young man from the Gen Z era who has changed the outcome of his career not once, or twice but three times! He has own businesses, turned an online store and getting paid RMB 100,000 a month and became a mini social media mogul when his Douyin (TikTok) account got over 56,000 followers with hundreds of comments, making him a “Z-list Internet celebrity”. Yu is just one of many “powerful small sellers” on Lazada. and guess what? He’s not even 30 yet!

Let’s look into his story:

Born in 1995, Yu Ruiqi was born to Chinese parents with a comfortable background. For university, he received a bachelor’s degree in finance from a prestigious Shanghai university and upon graduation, he worked as a product planner for an automotive company, earning RMB 15,000 per month. It’s a good job and Yu learned a lot but he was anxious to get out and start his own business.

If I fail again this time, I will go back to college."

Yu quit his full-time job rather abruptly and created a company selling wine. To get started, he collected RMB 150,000 for his start-up and RMB 50,000 from friends as “shareholders”, and a bank loan of RMB 50,000 to pump into his business. Unfortunately, due to a premature start and lack of a marketing strategy, the business went down in less than six months.

“Looking back, I was reckless. Without doing any market research or having a clear understanding of the industry, I left a cushy job and started a business without any plan or strategy. Major rookie mistake,” said Yu, retrospectively.

Pretty soon, Yu heard from a friend that the prospects of cross-border e-commerce were brightening, so he decided to get a sense of the industry by working in a relevant company first. He found a cross-border e-commerce company that works with Lazada. At first, the company didn’t impress Yu. When asked about the salary, the HR answered that it would be RMB 3,500 during the probationary period. Yu chuckled, “It’s not even enough to pay my rent. But considering I was there to learn, I took the offer.”

And learn, he did.

“I was given what seems to me like impossible tasks. I was assigned 10 Lazada stores with average daily sales of RMB 1,000-2,000. In order to pass my probation, I was expected to double the average daily sales within 3 months? How can I possibly reach such an impossible goal?”

As tough as his initial key performance indicator, Yu was quick to his feet and did what was expected of him. He watched the sales figures skyrocketing on the company’s LED screen for 24 hours straight. In the end, the average daily sales of the 10 stores he was managing rose by 1400% compared to the previous week. Yu was amazed by this. Looking back, he didn’t do anything special.

“I was shocked. All I did was routine housekeeping under the guidance of our team leader: listing new products, replying to customers’ messages, and publishing infographics of products–all things that seemed like mundane tasks but vital to our operations.”

Little did he know then but it was that careful attention and checking in on the clients that kept the sellers coming back. They felt like they were being heard and validated through their experience. Tens of thousands of Lazada sellers shared such surprises. Over 3 million orders were placed on Lazada, a 100% plus YoY increase, with 10 million more new users participating in the campaign that day compared to the previous year.

Later on, Yu learned that after taking their sales commission into account, many of those seemingly “unpolished and unimpressive” e-commerce operation employees would earn a monthly income of RMB 30,000 to 40,000. This sent Yu into a panic. He decided to make his next move: “I must act faster than them.”
After operating Lazada stores for two months, Yu had a hunch that his next opportunity was just around the corner. He announced in a group chat full of operation specialists, “I want to move to Shenzhen and start my own Lazada store.”

Stay tuned to find out what happens in Shenzhen in part two of this story!

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