ALIBABA'S "Taobao" e-commerce portal continues to demonstrate the collective buying power of rural Chinese citizens through the ongoing expansion of its rapidly growing rural service centre programme.
The centres help rural citizens without the e-commerce hardware or know-how to conduct business transactions online. The number of such centres has grown 800 per cent since June 2015, to reach more than 16,000.
Within three years, the company expects to operate a total of 100,000 centres, the New York's Air Cargo World reported.
As rural connectivity to online shopping increases, merchandise sales have soared. Alibaba's internal research organisation, Alizila, estimates seven billion packages were delivered to rural consumers in 2015, up 33 per cent from 4.5 billion in 2015.
Meanwhile, the report found the value of e-commerce transactions originating from government-designated impoverished areas grew 81 per cent year on year to US$3.3 billion in 2015. However, with nearly 50 per cent of the Chinese population residing in rural areas, the market is far from reaching its potential.
Moving forward, Alibaba said it hopes the rural centres can provide not only a platform for rural residents to purchase goods online, but also an opportunity to sell. A recently launched pilot programme in Zhejiang, Guizhou and Shandong provinces has enabled rural farmers to sell their produce to urban-dwellers.
Source : HKSG.