Business / Industries

Death of e-commerce worker sparks concerns

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-07-27 15:39

HEFEI -- A long period of overworking left a 24-year-old online shopkeeper dead in her sleep, raising public concern about the working conditions and health of those working in the e-business sector.

After working late many consecutive nights and not getting enough rest, "Aijun aj", the proprietor of an online shop, died of sudden cardiac failure on July 17 in East China's Anhui province.

"I just followed your Weibo when I saw reports about your death. I'm an online shopkeeper, too, and I can understand your pain and hard work, which others cannot understand," Weibo user "Xiaoming Joen" wrote on the last photo that "Aijun aj" posted on her Weibo on July 16.

"Why does a day only have 24 hours? I want to be a rechargeable robot," "Aijun aj" wrote on her Weibo before she died.

Her death follows that of another online shopkeeper who died in Jiangsu province in May. Prior to her death, she also took to Weibo to complain that staying up late to package goods left her feeling exhausted.

Zhou Ming has run an online shop for five years, and says that when he started his business he often felt dizzy and achy because he was doing all of his work alone, including stocking merchandise, consulting, packaging goods and sending the packages.

Despite these health concerns, private online stores have some advantages over other e-commerce enterprises. Low investment, few employees, flexible working hours and the ability to make a quick buck are aspects that are attracting more and more young people to the field.

Statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center showed that Taobao, China's largest online retailer, currently has more than 6 million professional shopkeepers, and nearly 10,000 new shops are registered and 10,000 shops shut down every day.

However, rigid regulations recently imposed on shop owners sparked fierce competition, resulting in private shopkeepers overextending themselves in the face of great pressure.

Most Taobao shop owners say they work more than 10 hours each day and ransack their brains to please buyers.

In a health survey conducted among 50,000 online shopkeepers last year, more than half said they suffer from headaches and other aches in their fingers, wrists and necks.

"Staying up late for consecutive nights, irregular eating and insufficient rest will easily cause hypoglycemia, hypokalemia and arrhythmia," said Wang Ailing, a doctor with the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University.

Yao Jianfang, an analyst with the China Internet Network Information Center, suggested that the e-commerce industry set up unified supervision and management systems in order to create opportunities in the existing environment of private small and medium-sized online shops.

Shopkeepers should take care of their health by getting adequate rest, eating properly and exercising, Yao added.

According to statistics released by the center, China has more than 538 million Internet users, 867 times the number that existed 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, the rapid development of e-commerce has also led to a surge in online consumption, affecting the scale of shopkeepers' businesses. Survey results issued by the center also show that more than 30 million small and medium-sized enterprises are looking to develop online businesses by 2017.

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