Interview with CEO of HOSTO: Innovative Services in E-cig Industry

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Interview with CEO of HOSTO: Innovative Services in E-cig Industry
Competition among e-cigarette freight forwarders intensifies, with price wars becoming the main way to attract customers.

Qian Liqun, CEO of HOSTO | Source: 2FIRSTS


Currently, competition among e-cigarette freight forwarder companies is becoming increasingly fierce, with "price wars" emerging as the main form of competition in the industry. Domestic e-cigarette freight forwarder companies primarily attract customers through low prices. On September 11th, 2FIRSTS conducted an exclusive interview with Qian Liqun, CEO of HOSTO Express. Qian believes that price wars are detrimental to the healthy development of the freight forwarding industry. Instead, he emphasizes that industry competition should be achieved through innovative, professional, and differentiated services aimed at addressing the pain points of customers.


"Innovation is the fundamental driving force behind business development, and the freight forwarding industry is no exception. Providing excellent service to customers through innovation has always been the pursuit of HOSTO Express," said Qian Liqun.


Distinguished Services as Foundation


"The company has firmly implanted the concept of differentiated service among its employees, aiming for constant improvement in service quality," Qian Liqun told 2FIRSTS.


Qian Liqun believes that from the perspective of the customers, providing differentiated solutions to their logistics challenges is vital for the company to maintain a good reputation. She still vividly remembers a shipment being detained by the US Customs last year.


Last June, a CBD e-cigarette belonging to an American client was deemed a drug paraphernalia by customs when going through customs. After receiving a seizure notice, HOSTO actively communicated with the American lawyer multiple times, eventually assisting the client in dealing with customs. Customs agreed to clear the goods again and they were released after the second clearance. The batch of goods was successfully delivered to the customer, who expressed satisfaction upon seeing Housutong's dedicated efforts in resolving the issue.



Honor Wall of HOSTO Express | Source: 2FIRSTS


Qian Liqun believes that understanding and meeting the needs and concerns of customers from their perspective is the fundamental basis for standing undefeated in the freight forwarding industry.


Advantages of "Last-mile" Delivery


Qian Liqun said that the efficient delivery of e-cigarettes at the end is a chronic problem that restricts the speed of many freight forwarders. Currently, e-cigarette goods arrive at airports in various countries overseas, but the services provided by truck distributors at the end of the supply chain vary in quality and speed. These factors have made "last-mile delivery" a pain point for customers. Speeding up the "last-mile" delivery will be helpful for e-cigarette customers to rapidly distribute their products and occupy the market, while reducing risks such as storage, inspection, and lost items.


As a veteran freight forwarder, HOSTO Express is also facing challenges in last-mile delivery. When faced with difficulties, they are determined to find solutions. HOSTO Express has made significant investments in overseas last-mile delivery. They have collaborated with reputable and large-scale trucking companies in the local areas. By analyzing past case data, they have designed the fastest truck routes and continuously optimize their delivery operations through practical experience.


"In the case of the United States, HOSTO has already selected trucking companies suitable for e-cigarette logistics. By partnering with qualified and reputable trucking companies, the rate of lost packages can be significantly reduced. They have official websites that allow for real-time tracking of logistics to ensure high-quality logistics services," said Qian Liqun.


Qian Liqun said that improving the service level of "end-truck delivery" is key to upgrading the logistics full-chain service of freight forwarding companies and is also a manifestation of their capabilities and strength. Only by having a closed-loop thinking in the supply chain and effectively solving customers' difficulties and pain points can they serve large projects and clients well. In the future, HOSTO will expand its overseas warehouses in the United States and may even invest in trucking companies.


Qian Liqun believes that "full-link channel" is a competitive barrier between freight forwarders, as well as a protective moat for high-quality freight forwarders. It is also the long-awaited desire of all e-cigarette customers. HOSTO and many peers have the responsibility and obligation to improve services and provide escort for e-cigarette customers in their overseas procurement journeys.


The e-cigarette industry is currently serving around 60% of companies domestically and internationally.


HOSTO has reached and served over 60% of the customers in the e-cigarette market, including the leading companies in the industry. Customer retention and ongoing contracts serve as the greatest recognition and affirmation of the company. This demonstrates that our decision to focus on long-term specialization in e-cigarette logistics is not only correct but also effective, according to Qian Liqun.


Qian Liqun said that a major challenge in the United States this year is inspections. By 2023, inspection rates in Europe and America are increasing. Faced with a challenging inspection situation, companies need to withstand the pressure and become flexible and powerful. This is what entrepreneurship is about, it requires persistence. The company is also actively innovating and striving to help customers solve their needs and pain points. They sincerely serve customers, rather than taking advantage selfishly.


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