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A Single Gen Z Guy Cashed in On the High Fertility Rates in Southeast Asia For Business Success

There is a group of Gen Z entrepreneurs from China who are excitedly selling on Lazada. Keenly aware of this emerging market, they are leveraging China’s sophisticated supply chain to make a fortune in the global market and they are showing no signs of slowing down. They are good at standing out from the crowd, great with product innovation and winning over customers with refined operations in the Southeast Asian market.

So, what exactly is their stunt? They target mothers with babies.

As a single young man, Li Weidong currently runs a store on Southeast Asia’s e-commerce platform Lazada, primarily selling baby safety and home decor products. It’s extremely popular among new mothers. Li, who previously dropped out of school, worked as a salesperson, and founded his own firm now dedicated his life to children in Southeast Asia.

Li Weidong was born in Quanzhou, Fujian province, and speaks with a southern Fujian accent. At the age of 25, he has already established a “decisive” demeanour and is capable of answering all types of store-related questions quickly and accurately. All of this can be attributed to Li’s “job experience” collected over the years.

“I got my first part-time job in 2011 when I really was supposed to be in high school. I wasn't particularly passionate about studying and so I dropped out and became a frontline salesman for a local home furnishing brand”

Li Weidong

During this period, Li Weidong showed his gift in sales for the first time. After getting started, he won the best salesman award multiple times. “I can still remember years later the thrill of winning the award. I am quite proud of myself,” he teared slightly as he brought it up.

But Li Weidong quickly realized that working in a small town would limit his opportunities for advancement. After considerable deliberation, he chose to return to school and was accepted into a university. When he began his freshman year, his go-getter spirit returned, and he began selling watches. “Among my peers, I became known as the “wealthy kid.” The work didn’t have much promise other than meeting my living expenses,” which was not what Li Weidong desired.

A few years later in 2015, cross-border e-commerce became a buzzword. After two weeks of thorough research, Li Weidong discovered that, in order to encourage childbirth, European and North American countries were offering massive subsidies to companies in the mother and baby care industry, making investing in this industry appear to be a safer bet than investing in other industries.

Li Weidong was interested in the mother and child care markets in the United States, Europe, and Russia. To obtain more expertise, he began his own business while still in college. Before starting his own business, Li Weidong thought it was a no-brainer to sell affordable Chinese products to foreign markets. But reality hit him hard.

He once decided to carry a line of products with a “baby shark” motif, so he contacted a manufacturer to make dolls and sleeping

bags with this design. This concept generated over RMB 10,000 in sales. Li Weidong received an attorney’s letter just as his business was taking off. “The product was copyrighted and the term “baby shark” and its design were deemed a “pirated product”. I paid RMB 300,000 for it.”

This lesson cost Li Weidong a lot of money. To reestablish his little firm, he had to start from scratch. This, however, created a solid foundation for his long-term development. Li learned from his mistakes and gradually achieved his first life goal: earning his first million dollars. He began to consider new ways to enter the cross-border e-commerce market.

Southeast Asia is a goldmine for maternity and newborn care enterprises. After all, the mother and baby care industry is one that is “people-centered.” Which country has the greatest fertility rate in the world? The answer is, you guessed it, Southeast Asia.

Li Weidong, a young guy with “larger intentions,” began to move his focus to the Southeast Asian market. In June 2019, he launched two stores on the Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada. The stores opened for business at the end of the same year.

Through this business, he met Liu Jianping, who handles the store’s operations. He recalls that everyone was new to the Southeast Asian market, so they kept “making mistakes” in the early stage, failing to find the key tricks to successful operations.

“At the beginning, we didn’t list many products, but we would receive a dozen orders every day. Such dedicated traffic has been extremely helpful in promoting our products and sales conversion.” Liu Jianping said. Although their store was relatively new, soon enough their monthly sales exceeded 200 orders.

As the pandemic spread across Southeast Asia, most people were forced to stay at home for a longer period of time. Since Li’s two stores were specialized in products such as safety gates and play fences for children, they started growing rapidly, soon exceeding RMB 170,000 in monthly turnover. Soon later, a Filipino buyer placed an order of more than RMB 2,500 for the store’s bestseller, a child safety gate. The stores on Lazada saw an influx of orders and total transaction volume kept rising until it exceeded RMB 60,000 by midnight.

Li Weidong is also getting one step closer to his goal. His team consists of more than 20 people, the majority of whom are under the age of 30. They, too, are contributing to the employment of recent college graduates. “We will offer internships to seniors and hire outstanding graduates for full-time positions in cross-border e-commerce operations.” Li plans to open more positions and hire more college graduates after he takes the company’s Lazada store to the next level.

“I want to be an entrepreneur. I have this dream deeply buried within my heart but it is something I want to achieve,” said Li with a smile. For entrepreneurs in the mother and baby care industry, Southeast Asia is like a “treasure trove”.

Luckily, Li Weidong met Lazada.

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