Simon Slade tells us how SaleHoo is a powerful research tool, supplier directory, and online community for dropshippers, wholesalers, and e-commerce stores.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Simon Slade: We are doing well. New Zealand has done a really impressive job in managing this crisis, and we’ve been lucky.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SaleHoo.
Simon Slade: I got into e-commerce as an online seller on a New Zealand auction site called TradeMe. When I realized my fellow sellers were struggling to find solid, trusted suppliers, I came up with the idea for SaleHoo, an online directory of verified wholesale suppliers, to help online sellers be confident about who they’re working with and ensure happier customers and consistently good reviews. I’m really passionate about e-commerce because it allows individuals to have such great independence, create the lifestyle they want and have as much personal autonomy as possible. Later, partner Mark Ling and I launched Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal—another resource for folks in the e-commerce industry that can generate economic success and help people become more independent. From there, we built the parent company, Doubledot Media Limited.
How does SaleHoo innovate?
Simon Slade: We are constantly applying input from our existing customers to make our services better. Not only are we trying to improve our current products, but we’re also trying to anticipate what our customers might need next. The e-commerce world is rapidly evolving, and we have to be diligent about trends and best practices to ensure we can help our customers stay ahead of the curve. Furthermore, I think one of our most important innovations is our constant commitment to introducing SaleHoo to a new audience. Our existing customer base is so valuable, but we also recognize that there are so many people out there who can benefit from our services, and we want to get in front of them.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Simon Slade: I think the greatest lesson from the pandemic is that all business owners have to be diligent and prepared for changes at any time. Flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important qualities in business leadership. During this particular crisis, we felt lucky that our staff is mostly remote and based all over the world. We already knew how to operate as a teleworking team, so there was no transition out of the office, which made the pandemic less of a shock to the business.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Simon Slade: Our customer relationships have always been remote, so the pandemic didn’t change the actual manner in which we connect with our customer (through the web), but it did reinvigorate our need and responsibility to be connected with our customers. As things got difficult for people around the world, we worked hard to be present and supportive in every possible way. Creating community and support are a big part of our operations because it’s one of the easiest ways to benefit our customers: connecting them with each other. We also place a heavy focus on managing our relationships with our existing customers and understanding their experience with our products through tools like buyer personas and customer journey maps.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Simon Slade: Yes, we received a wage subsidy grant from our government. This helped us keep all staff employed immediately after our borders closed. It was a great source of support at a time of huge uncertainty.
Your final thoughts?
Simon Slade: We understand that the pandemic has been a struggle for many, but we hope there is a silver lining in terms of the shifting perspective about the workplace. We hope that, in the wake of this crisis, more businesses can create remote teams that will allow their employees to have the flexibility and higher quality of life, and more people can start their own online businesses to support themselves.