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Taking e-commerce to the countryside

China Daily,May 26, 2020 Adjust font size:

Hua Xi (left) co-hosts a livestreaming show to sell agricultural products from rural Guizhou province. E-commerce offers a good way for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 2014, Hua returned to her hometown in Tongren city in Guizhou to give birth to their first child. After reading news about a rural resident who had launched an online shop for local agricultural products, Hua decided to launch her own e-commerce business in 2015.

"When I left my hometown, I missed the local food but I didn't know where to buy it. I decided to give it a shot by selling local food to people outside my hometown and also help local people purchase products online," she adds.

In April 2015, she moved her business to Rural Taobao, an e-commerce project launched by Alibaba Group "to turn China's rural residents into online shoppers and sellers". Hua's sales exceeded 1 million yuan by the first half of 2017.

"We start by selecting the products and then introduce them to the consumers. We also take care of the packaging, transportation and branding," says Hua, adding that she also faces challenges since her hometown is in a remote area, where people know less about e-commerce.

Investments in hardware and logistics are also needed.

Selling products through livestreaming has become popular in China. Unlike celebrity hosts of livestreaming shows, who have large online followings, Hua and her team have a smaller but stable base, with each livestream attracting from 3,000 to 5,000 viewers.

"There is a big demand from cities for organic products, and Rural Taobao offers good prices. Online sales offer more opportunities to sell outside the hometown market," she says, adding that she is working on plans to promote Guizhou's rural tourism by selling tickets to local scenic spots.

During a tour of Zhashui county in Shaanxi province on April 20, President Xi Jinping met a group of merchants who were using livestreaming to sell mu'er, a black fungus. China Central Television showed Xi telling the group that "e-commerce is very important in promoting agricultural products and has a big role to play."

Hua says, "Xi's words gave us a lot of confidence."

Hua participated in the National People's Congress in Beijing as a deputy last year.

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