Kazuyoshi Nakazato, founder of Zig-Zag speaks to us about cross-border commerce.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: While leading the company and team members, I have been taking all the precautions that I could do for COID-19, such as minimizing working in an office to avoid infection. My wife has also reduced her work schedule, and our two sons are no longer going to school and switching to online classes.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Zig-Zag.
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: I was born in Japan in 1974 and grew up in Japan. I started my career in the internet web marketing industry and experienced many types of internet advertisement in outdoor advertising, spatial graphics, etc.
During the time when I believed that the internet has the power to connect the world, I faced a very important experience. One day I tried to buy goods from an E-commerce shop in the US, I realized that they are not able to ship them to Japan. The internet leads me to the EC shop in the US without any border, but I cannot get it. It’s not the world that I expect for the internet.
Since I need to learn more about international logistics, I became the CEO of an international logistics company and dived into the international logistics industry across Japan, the US, Germany, and Korea. In 2015, I decided to turn my business into a way to solve cross-border commerce challenges and founded ZIG-ZAG, Inc.
How does Zig-Zag innovate?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: We provide a service called WorldShopping BIZ that enables cross-border EC service for more than 125 countries to an EC site that does not support overseas customers. EC site owners do not realize that there are certain existing web accesses from outside of the country.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: It is very positive for our business. First of all, we can help companies suffering from COVID-19 enabling to sell their products overseas. Plus, we are able to deliver Japanese products to awaiting foreign people who are unable to visit Japan due to COVID-19. On the other hand, we need to take care of our team members.
During COVID-19 times, each section of the company, such as engineering, customer support, sales, and corporate office, works remotely. We need to avoid the risk of infection with COVOID-19 as much as possible. However, since our logistics team is not possible to work remotely. We take great care to maintain the safety of them. The challenge is that there is a lack of real communication among our team. Since this is very important for a start-up like us to build and share the same culture, we are still coping with how to keep on the same page on these new normal days.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: EMS (Express Mail Service) has been stopped in China, the United States, and other certain countries (in March 2021, there is no prospect of resumption in the United States). As an alternative, we decided to switch to other distributors like FedEx, DHL, etc. Having an alternative option is very important, but it’s a very difficult decision as it resulted in asking users to bear more costs than EMS.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: We use tools like ZOOM, GoogleMeet, Slack, Monday, and SalesForce
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: There are no specific competitors in the Japanese market. In terms of cross-border commerce, you might come up with the marketplace players outside of Japan, but their business models and user targets are totally different from ours. What we need to focus on right now is to change the mindset of Japanese e-commerce companies to recognize the importance of hidden overseas sales opportunities.
Your final thoughts?
Kazuyoshi Nakazato: Our service is to support the “Want from the world users.” At the same time, we also support the “Want to deliver the crafting spirits of creators through e-commerce.” Travelling around the world is restricted by COVOID-19. We really hope that our service will support you. I hope that human can overcome this difficult situation and return to normal life as soon as possible.