Interview with Thomas Jonsson
Owner of www.gadgetbay.com and E-Commerce Specialist
Thomas arrived in Shanghai in 2006 to study Chinese. Inspired by an idea he contacted a Chinese E-Shopping mall because he wanted to sell MP3 players and other, small electronic devices to Sweden. He spent all his savings on this project and soon enough started to sell products made in China on various Swedish websites.
Like in a fairy tale, success story, Thomas started to run his company operation out of his dorm room, before he quit his studies and began to focus full time on making his dream come true.
It was the right time to start E-Commerce, and although the Internet was slow, he had access to all the websites he needed to run his business. Soon he began hiring people and established a well-oiled operation that today employs over 20 people.
Was it challenging to set up a company in China?
No, it wasn’t, but it is essential to acknowledge that it took me a long time. Today there are many possible ways to start E-Commerce, but even now there is a long checklist to get through to make everything work properly.
Compared to 10-12 years ago today there are many (fast and user-friendly) options for building E-commerce websites, setting up payment channels, putting up good product photos while optimizing everything.
What is your target market?
We target first of all Sweden because I am Swedish and it is most apparent to work with a culture in a language that I know very well. I specialize in the Swedish market, and 80% of our overall business is connected to the country. We do have four full-time Swedish employees as well to strengthen authenticity and ease of communication. This set up helps us to confidently and around the clock serve the Swedish market and get credibility and provide a highly positive customer experience. It also helps us to establish a relationship with other North European countries such as Norway, Finland, and Denmark.
How do you choose your products?
In the beginning, we could put up and sell any and all kinds of products. Today competition is fierce, and we need to be much more organized and focused to meet customer expectations. Thankfully we are working with a network of established local platforms, and they communicate with us very precisely about what they need. They have a good understanding of trends, fashion, what customers are looking for and we conduct the sourcing according to their requirements.
What are the most significant challenges for doing E-Commerce business?
Ten years ago the biggest challenge was technology. Everything was slow, and handling product photos, stock management was equally as challenging as managing a database. Today all these tasks are much faster; you can establish an E-commerce website in a couple of hours and start selling. However, today’s challenge is to drive traffic to the website. Some newcomers think that E-Commerce is so easy because setting up platforms and making the system work is fast and accessible. However, once you complete the setup, you need to be visible and catch the attention of potential customers. It is not only costly to advertise, search engine optimise and connect with customers, but they need to spend money as well. Visitors that don’t turn in to customers don’t generate any revenue. Hence focus has to be on final conversion, not only on website visitors.
What is your strategy? How do you stay visible on the market? What is your USP?
We focus on sourcing, production, and shipping. These three areas are our expertise, and we stick to them. Our partners in Sweden do advertisement and the marketing work. Most of our business is done through Hong Kong, mostly because it is easier and more cost-effective than through Mainland China.
The way we sell and ship products are not unique; there are at least another 1000 companies out there that can do the same as what we do. Where we have our unique selling point is that we know our niche -Swedish customers- and we build strong connections there. We don’t try to beat other competitors by price. Instead, we offer high product quality, excellent customer service, and continuous communication. Through our partners, we have a strong understanding of customer taste and expectations hence we can cater to them well. We only show them what they are interested in, down to specifics such as style, trend, colors.
What do you suggest to creators, how to approach the question of building an E-Commerce site?
Planning and having obvious targets are the most important focus points. Creators need to decide if they want to sell many products in their online shopping mall, sell specific products on an E-Commerce platform or create a landing page that supports and advocates a particular product or product line.
Thomas is expert in E-commerce, shipping and sourcing products from China.