New Trends: China sees rapid development in rural e-commerce

In a small village nestled in Guizhou Province in southwest China, Wang Jing returned from the bustling metropolis of Shenzhen to start an entrepreneurial journey. This choice deviated from the norm, as people who leave their hometowns seldom relinquish the allure and opportunities of a metropolitan life. Nevertheless, Wang's decision, made a decade ago, proved to be both resolute and immensely rewarding.

With just a smartphone in hand, Wang, an ethnic Miao, embarked on a mission to instruct people in the art of cultivating mushrooms using corn cobs through easily comprehensible short videos on various online platforms. This initiative garnered widespread attention, resulting in her amassing over 3.6 million followers.

Over the course of the past decade, her e-commerce company has dedicated itself to providing complimentary training in diverse mushroom cultivation and management techniques, benefiting farmers in her hometown as well as internet users across the country.

Wang also assists farmers in marketing agricultural produce through e-commerce platforms and via a proficient livestreaming team. As a direct outcome of this endeavor, the incomes of over 2,000 local villagers have substantially increased, while more than 60,000 farmers have tuned in to Wang's online mushroom cultivation tutorials, eagerly seeking her guidance and assistance.

Wang is not the only person using technology to bring prosperity to their home village. Many young and business-savvy Chinese people have joined her, introducing the lucrative e-commerce model to the places they grew up. Thanks to the rapid growth of apps such as Douyin (a Chinese equivalent of TikTok), livestreaming and online sales functions have turbocharged e-commerce. Homegrown farming produce has become a new trend in online communities and farmers from far-flung villages have picked up the skills to promote their products in a way that's accessible to a fast-growing consumer base.

Liu Wengang, a villager in his 40s, accidentally turned his life around after venturing into the short video market for fun. He went from sharing his experience of repairing household appliances, an endeavor that won him widespread admiration for his optimistic and hardworking qualities, to becoming a livestreaming sales host much in demand.

Luogang County in central China's Hubei Province, Liu's birthplace, is a production center for rice wine, something that Liu did not forget to promote after he became a star. In a single livestreaming sales event, which lasted for four hours, Liu secured over 300 orders.

Stories like Liu's and Wang's are plentiful, and in recent years they have exponentially increased, coinciding with China's rural revitalization initiatives. Aiming to further promote rural e-commerce, the Ministry of Commerce and several other government departments have spearheaded efforts to enhance county-level business networks, overseeing the renovation of nearly 1,000 trade and service centers in county towns and over 3,900 similar markets in towns and townships in the past year.

Meanwhile, hundreds more logistics distribution centers have been built in less advanced parts of the country, drastically expanding the reach of express deliveries. Last year, the nationwide tally of rural online businesses reached 17.3 million, reflecting year-on-year growth of 6.2 percent, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Notably, livestreaming e-commerce accounted for 33.1 percent of these shops.

In the era of rapid internet expansion, rural e-commerce has spread from urban to rural areas and from east to west, encompassing China's poorer regions. Beginning with a handful of "Taobao villages" and the earliest grassroots e-commerce entrepreneurs, rural e-commerce has now entered the mainstream – rural online retail sales have reached trillions of yuan.

(Cover: A livestreaming sales event is held in Xiaogan, central China's Hubei Province, July 9, 2022. /CFP)

Search Trends