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MUer Sharing | Ken Huang: A Look Back at a Quarter Century, YIWU SKYLARK Sets Off Again

Hello, leaders and colleagues! I am Ken Huang from SKYLARK NETWORK.

I remember when I first joined MU, I worked in the Sourcing Department Ⅱ in Yiwu, responsible for servicing Ningbo Export Group of Department C of Market Union. After joining, while doing odd jobs, I engaged in integrated learning. In less than a year of understanding and learning, what struck me the most was the export side’s crazy dedication to business development and the sourcing side’s endless demand for samples. According to the headcount, each person was required to prepare 5 to 10 boxes of samples for selection, leaving a deep impression on me.

Through diligent learning and work, I had the opportunity to operate the company’s largest customers and gained greater responsibilities and learning opportunities. Due to the drive of customers, I accumulated and developed rigorous thinking logic and practical work style, learning and understanding many things that played a significant role in later work. The cumulative value lies in continuous action, continuous reflection, and continuous progress.

The establishment of the Department H of GENERAL UNION (GU) coincided with the accelerated localization of MU Group in Yiwu, and it was also a customer development model suitable for Yiwu, pioneered by MU: Yiwu’s market and hotels are all “battlefields”. During the Canton Fair, we adjusted our flights to Yiwu Airport, and colleagues drove over to interact at set times, in order to develop customers. This was a difficult entrepreneurial period but also the most basic stage for SKYLARK’s foundation in terms of working style and other aspects. After completing the initial development stage, we increased interaction in other languages, especially Spanish, which now has a certain language advantage in the Spanish market and is steadily growing.

In 2019, we entered a new stage of development — the establishment of a new business division of GU, delving deeper into issues such as the improvement of management and backbone personnel, humanization within the red circle policy, the relationship between colleague development and company development, and the construction of mission and culture.

Entering 2020, after a brief panic, we fully engaged in the battle, redefining our mission: to cultivate the growth of young foreign customers and cultivate young Chinese people. We vigorously launched the recruitment of interns for the 21st session, which has achieved remarkable results to date, and new colleagues have all grown. At the same time, 2021 was also the first year of large-scale construction of Alibaba stations. So far, there are 18 Alibaba sites, 3 global sites, 26 MIC sites, and 3 self-built sites in operation, with an investment expanded to 5 million, becoming a huge stage for young colleagues to develop and realize themselves.

Regarding the investment in Alibaba International: At that time, we did see the introduction of some customers. After comprehensive consideration, the company’s development required these investments, which was the right thing to do, so we went all out to do it. When colleagues from other business divisions communicated with me, asking me to state the input-output ratio, I am sorry, I couldn’t answer that. The input is phased, but if we work solidly and do well, then the introduced customers are eternal. Based on this judgment, it is right for us to do it. Success and harvest vary from person to person. It requires later strong investment, including live streaming with traffic, active contacting of customer RFQs, sensitivity to products and markets, and most importantly, we need to clearly understand the general direction of things, so as to reduce hesitation under the balance of gains and losses. If it feels necessary, just go ahead and do it, only by doing it will we know what it is!

Regarding the investment in Global Sources: Department H of GU tried the Global Sources platform very early on, but at that time, there was not the current atmosphere, and it was half-dead and inactive, so we stopped it. We want to connect it and, through more than three years of operation, there will definitely be gains, but whether we made money or not cannot be calculated. We need to operate it first to deeply understand what it is, and how much we gain needs time to be tested. Because our most important asset is talent, and talent growth is more critical.

Investment in MIC: Our investment in MIC began with our desire to explore stationery but also our concerns about copyright infringement. Hence, we decided to invest in MIC. Because we felt that a single point of coverage was too limited, by the end of 2022, we had initially invested in 5 stores. After becoming familiar with MIC and conducting inspections at the Focus Technology headquarter led by President Tom Tang, we gained a vague understanding of the data from the initial batch of stores and the overall MIC data. Subsequently, we continued to invest in 20 stores throughout 2023. Despite encountering significant idle issues due to an excessive number of stores, I believe that if we were to start over, we would still proceed in the same manner.

Building our own websites is a strategic issue. We need to understand some basic traffic logic and gain different insights from it: two similar directions like sourcing agents are being developed; one specialized product category that we felt should be pursued, and now that we have the capability, we have initiated it; two new websites have just been launched, developed and operated by Focus Technology, requiring observation and coordination to see what we can learn from them. Currently, our websites can accommodate more colleagues to operate and demonstrate their value.

2024 will be a year of continuity and advancement for SKYLARK, with ongoing website platform construction, continued investment in the Canton Fair, visits, etc., providing colleagues with comprehensive development channels and successful pathways. At the same time, we will increase our focus on supply chain construction, strengthen the development of design teams, sourcing teams, and QC teams, enhance the incubation and ideological orientation of professional product lines. Only a strong supply chain foundation can drive strong customer development capabilities and the ability to develop the C-end business at any time.

Let’s go all out to be No.1! Thank you all, and I wish you explosive growth!

(This article is compiled from the recording shared by Ken Huang, General Manager of SKYLARK NETWORK, at the 2023-2024 Middle and Senior-Level Cadres Meeting of MU Group)

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