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Rural Taobao brings e-commerce to the countryside

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-03 07:48

Rural Taobao brings e-commerce to the countryside

A rural resident (right) is given a New Year gift at a Rural Taobao service center in Zhejiang province. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

From stocking shelves to running the register, the company has given these stores a digital makeover, updating operating systems and bringing modern analytics to a business that often is run on intuition.

"We've had a lot of challenges, as we couldn't keep up with the pace and often ran out of stock," said Huang Donghai, the owner of Weijun Grocery in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. "Now, the technology offers a glimpse of the most sought-after items through data analytics, allowing us to order directly from manufacturers and circumvent middlemen, which trims costs."

Wang Xiaoer, who sells local produce in Gansu province, said Alibaba's big data analysis also helped him to identify customer preferences and decide which fruits sell better and at what times of the year.

"Without big data, we were clueless in selling. Now we don't have to worry about the potential waste," he said.

More than 10,000 farms have partnered with Wang in the hope that e-commerce and precise data analysis can boost sales and help their local specialties to go global.

Also turning to high-tech solutions are villagers in Youxi county, Fujian province, who have harnessed livestreaming and Taobao to market kumquats.

Taobao promoted the area's local produce by inviting a Michelin-starred Italian chef and a Chinese internet celebrity to put on a cooking demonstration, which was streamed live online.

"People are normally concerned about food safety when they purchase food online. We want to show them the source of the produce," said Wang Xiuli, who oversaw the project for the county's Rural Taobao service center.

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