First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
David Hills: We are doing well and appropriately modifying our activities as much as possible. I and a number of our employees now do more work from home. My wife is a nurse, so in her case, there is no working from home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined ShopSite.
David Hills: I have a computer science degree from Brigham Young University, and after a few years of working as a programmer, I decided to get my MBA. Since then, I’ve had various high-tech management positions. Back in the early internet years, I joined a startup to manage their eCommerce development. After being purchased and then spun-off after the dot-com bust, I found myself running what is now ShopSite, Inc.
How does ShopSite innovate?
David Hills: There are various strategies we use to innovate. We listen to our merchants, partners, and employees and often add the features and products they suggest. We also try to look at our competitors and the divine where the industry is headed.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
David Hills: I would say the phrase “it is a double-edged sword” aptly describes how it has affected us. Our merchants that sell outdoor gear, games, home-improvement supplies, and furniture have seen an increase in sales. While those that offered camps, conferences, and other booking events have lost sales.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
David Hills: As far as COVID-19 goes, we have not so much had difficult choices per se but modifications. We were always flexible with those that wanted to work from home for some time during the week. Now we needed to allow even more of that. Like many folks, we’ve embraced more video conferencing and instant messaging, such as with Slack. We recently had a key engineer contract Covid, and it hit him hard. To be honest, we were more concerned with his health than any deliverable he was working on, but you have to modify schedules and reset expectations. I would say the lesson learned is to be flexible and ready to adapt.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and ShopSite in the future?
David Hills: Personally, I feel that exercise and getting outside is a great stress reliever. I live in Utah, so the opportunity for outdoor activities is enormous. In the summer, I will often kayak with friends and family on Saturday, and during the week, I try to get a bike ride or two up the canyon that I live near. While we can’t wait for the pandemic to be gone, it has helped even more people embrace eCommerce. So the future looks good for ShopSite.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
David Hills: Well, you can’t be in the eCommerce business without being aware of that giant Amazon. While they are big and many merchants know they have to have some products on their services, merchants would really rather sell directly from their own website where their costs are lower, and they are not sharing sales data with Amazon. So there will always be a need for alternatives to Amazon, and we plan to be one of those solutions.
Your final thoughts?
David Hills: Thanks for giving me a chance to share a little about our company. It is a crazy time, but we will get through this!
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