The Asian business market is one of the most dynamic and fast growing in the world. It consists of some of the biggest economies in the world, with China likely being the most significant.
These factors make other nations take a big interest in it. According to the findings of recent years, Asia is regarded as a strategic location for entrepreneurship and innovation. Moreover, there have been several successful companies that have emerged from this area. One of these is DHgate, a Chinese cross-border trade platform.
Diane Wang, the company’s founder, chairperson, and CEO will share her inspiring story with us today.
Hello Diane, thank you for being here and sharing your experience with us.
Let’s start with an overview of your career. Who are you, and what do you do?
“I started my entrepreneurial career as one of the co-founders and CEO of Joyo.com, one of the first and largest at the time, B2C online marketplaces in China. Joyo was acquired by Amazon in 2004 and later became Amazon China. I then founded DHgate.com in late 2004 as a B2B cross-border e-commerce marketplace in China. Since then, with the help of an incredible and growing global team, we have built DHgate.com into DHGATE Group – covering B2B commerce, retail, social commerce, logistics, and payments networks that help entrepreneurs with their vital business needs. To date, DHgate has the largest market share in the US market among all B2B e-commerce platforms from China.
As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve, we find new ways to innovate and update our service offerings to meet the needs of entrepreneurs best, empowering them to pursue their passions and business ambitions. As part of that, we launched the MyyShop social commerce platform in 2020, as we saw social media emerging as a vital medium for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses to sell products and reach out to their fans and target consumers.
I am particularly passionate about empowering women and aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those from underserved communities, such as young people, students, or people who don’t want a conventional full-time job and routine. This is reflected in the missions of both DHgate.com and MyyShop. As our platforms grow, we see countless stories of people taking their livelihood into their own hands and creating healthy businesses that let them support their families. These stories of empowerment are why I continue to be motivated to grow, improve and innovate this business over the past 19 years.”
Tell us about DHgate. What is this company specialised in?
“DHgate.com is one of the world’s leading B2B cross-border e-commerce wholesale marketplaces, boasting an extensive supplier and seller network that allows retailers to source a wide variety of products for their businesses. Since its inception, DHgate.com has established a strong foothold in China and has now become a global go-to e-commerce marketplace.”
One of the most interesting projects of the DHgate group is MyyShop, the commerce SaaS platform. How did this DHgate project come about, what is it for, and what value does it bring to DHgate?
“The rise of social media and emerging new consumer groups are game changers. As we observed the e-commerce market and consumer changes over the years, we realized that social media content creators did not have a one-stop solution where they could quickly and effectively set up a social shopping digital storefront and business. And thus MyyShop was born – it tackles the challenges of social commerce while optimizing the retail experience for nano to mega influencers/creators and their fans.
Driven by the trend of decentralization, DHgate launched MyyShop in late 2020. As a pioneering social commerce platform, MyyShop provides digitalization tools and every-step support to empower creators, influencers, and individual entrepreneurs with social influence to monetize their influence on social effortlessly. Simply put, they could “Share to Earn”, selling through shoppable feeds or leveraging influencer marketing on social platforms.
And we keep evolving our products and services to practically support different content creators, ranging from nano to mega, by providing them with relevant tools to quickly discover viral products, build customized stores, earn a commission, and so on.
MyyShop was created as a response to consumers’ changing social and shopping habits and an all-in-one solution for modern entrepreneurs looking to carve out a niche for themselves in the social shopping space. Tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zers are not only spending more time on social media but also making more shopping decisions motivated by influencer content, as influencers and digital content creators are able to more effectively convey their personal values and product recommendations through social media content.
As an extension of DHgate.com’s philosophy of empowering entrepreneurs, MyyShop lowers the barrier to entry for content creators to kickstart their own businesses, cutting out many of the risks and costs associated with other social commerce platforms. Right now, MyyShop is focused on the US, where we believe there is a large, underserved market of influencers and creators who are keen to explore social commerce to make a living and pursue the passion for content creation but are hindered by a dizzying array of solutions across different platforms, apps, and websites. MyyShop brings many essential social commerce solutions and services together in one platform, streamlining creators’ social commerce journey.”
Let’s focus on the markets in which MyyShop operates. What are its distinctive features, which are the main competitors and how can MyyShop differentiate itself from them?
“MyyShop is unique as a creator tool for social commerce. As part of the DHGATE Group, MyyShop leverages DHgate’s world-class logistics, a network of global suppliers, and a payment infrastructure that gives creators everything they need to be successful when monetizing their social accounts.
Setting up a digital storefront and landing page is free, easy, and customizable. AI-tailored product recommendations to help influencers and content creators find the best products for their online shop. MyyShop also provides a unified payment system and delivery logistics powered by DHgate.com. The MyyShop shopping experience can be easily integrated into leading social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Creators can have their shoppable storefront up and running in just a few clicks, making MyyShop a practical choice in all stages of growing a content-driven business.
Thanks to its easy-to-use format, over 100,000 content creators have worked with MyyShop in 2022 alone.”
You have a lot of international experience, and you also know the Asian market well. What are the recent marketing initiatives that MyyShop and DHgate are embarking upon? What challenges does your company face when marketing globally?
“Social commerce is an inevitable trend for 2023 and the future that will surely empower sales, marketing, and growth no matter in the B2B or B2C field. Whether you are an online retailer, social influencer, content creator, micro trader, or individual business owner, to seize the opportunity of social commerce, you either establish yourself as a social influencer or collaborate with influencers.
One of the initiatives for Myyshop that I am most excited about is the Million-Follower Movement campaign dedicated to helping creators monetize their social impact.
Joey Reed and Gabriel Reed are some of our partnering creators for this campaign. They are twin brothers who are prominent TikTok creators with millions of followers. They just recently learned about MyyShop earlier this year. With the help of MyyShop, they successfully launched their first fashion series under their own brand, which was made available for fans to purchase. With the power of millions of followers, orders have increased since the products went live on their MyyShop shop.
At the 2023 Coachella music festival held in Indio, California, they garnered renewed attention by showing their custom-designed clothing, resulting in a sales surge for their personal brand.
We are seeing so many other young people like the Reed brothers who are keen to seize new opportunities, start their own businesses, continuing the rapid growth of social commerce.
Apart from these mega influencers, we also have a group of rising stars in content creation globally. Consider nano influencer Amberlynn Reid, who launched her own online storefront through MyyShop while caring for her young son. She was able to leverage her relatable life experiences as a new parent and aspiring entrepreneur, as well as her influence among mothers, to promote products she believed in while making some extra income. At MyyShop, everyone is open to the opportunity to work on an effective social commerce strategy with MyyShop.
When marketing globally, localization in different regions is a huge challenge and opportunity for us. It is very important to form strong partnerships with people in different markets with different audiences and needs. With a diverse team, we are able to form relationships with our partners all over the world, from creators to supplier partners and event managers.”
You are involved in several international associations such as BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, which have the aim of making an impact on Women’s empowerment issues. This issue is very interesting and an always current focus of interest.
How much inequality is there in this sector and what is it due to? What are the key reasons why women face barriers to entry in entrepreneurship?
“Gendered stereotypes and norms have been reinforced in society for a very long time – it is a long road to achieving true equality and empowerment for women in entrepreneurship and SMEs around the world. There are a multitude of reasons that contribute to this inequality, such as country and ethnic cultural norms. Rather than looking backward at the reasons, I believe that what is important now is to push for more support and recognition for women and that the pursuit for equality can be helped along and hastened when women help women and like-minded individuals come together to pool resources and experiences for sharing.
Women still face a very high barrier to gaining the knowledge and skills they need in entrepreneurship. A recent survey by the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Business Advisory Council found that 63% of women respondents from MSMEs reported they felt they lacked professional skills, and more than 50% needed training in digital tools. Knowledge and training are the key factors that must be continuously improved to empower more women in entrepreneurship and technology.”
Moreover, what do you do in your work to promote inclusiveness?
“I am personally passionate about promoting gender equality and empowering women. When I founded Joyo.com (which was acquired by Amazon in 2004) and later DHgate, I strongly believed that we need to build cultures that value cultivating female leadership from the ground up, and I still believe that now. That way, once my companies became large and had a more established culture, proactively supporting and providing opportunities to female leaders was built in.
MyyShop was created to offer more accessibility and training to enable and empower women and other underserved communities in the new e-commerce and retail landscape. Practical digital skills and tools are key to cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Outside of DHGATE Group, I have taken on leadership advisory roles in various international organizations. This includes the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Business 20 (B20), and BRICS Women’s Business Alliance. These groups support women’s economic participation, promote gender equality and inclusion, and more.
In 2016, I founded APEC Women Connect (AWC) – a digital entrepreneurship community for women worldwide where they can share, learn, and get inspiration from other women in entrepreneurship. In particular, women who lack knowledge about digital platforms can be directly mentored by experienced entrepreneurs in the community. Women from diverse backgrounds participate in this community, including entrepreneurs, policymakers, corporate business leaders, and more – allowing women to draw from a large and varied network of knowledge and experience.
APEC officially recognizes AWC and has been on the list of recommended programs for member countries for four consecutive years. Just last year, we held the 3rd APEC Women Connect “Her Power” Entrepreneurship Competition, which engaged over 1,000 participants interested in social commerce from countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines, Italy, Nigeria, Malawi, Venezuela, and China.
Over four months, we collected more than 20 case studies on how to set up female-led businesses in social commerce, which then led to the launch of a specific e-learning platform on YouTube that provides more than 10 courses educating women entrepreneurs across topics such as cross-border e-commerce, cross-border financing, tactics for boosting sales during live-streaming sessions, as well as e-commerce branding and marketing courses.
This year, I’ve also been building a new global female entrepreneur empowerment community that I envision providing mentorship, support, and recognition for young female entrepreneurs in the digital sector around the world. These types of programs and communities are crucial to uplifting and empowering women. I believe that improving, updating, and expanding these programs can help more women grow their businesses more quickly and effectively.”
Your story as a female entrepreneur is a successful one. What advice do you feel you can give to young women embarking on an entrepreneurial journey or career?
“One key driving message that I’ve always held close to is “talk to your heart” – doing this has given me my direction in life, and I believe that it is something that everyone should do to stay true to themselves, their values, and their beliefs. You must act from your heart on important decisions and be persistent.
Firstly, for entrepreneurs, you should pursue things that enlighten your passions. Only with passion and determination you and your team could experience peaks and troughs and persistently go forward.
Secondly, emphasize the value of people. Teamwork is fundamental. We could always overcome difficulties and correct problems as a whole team. And at different stages, a good entrepreneur should think about developing different team members. Besides, it is equally important to absorb external information and work with external experts such as think tanks because they can provide new and fresh knowledge as outsiders and avoid the limitation of an internal team.
Thirdly, adaptation capacity. Nowadays, with rapid changes in various industries, it is hard to deal with problems with only one solution. Therefore, for entrepreneurs, it is critical to have the capacity to adapt to the changing market, even to foresee potential changes, and make adjustments.”
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