China’s e-com can help Australia
in Luwan, Shanghai, give a live display to a room filled with apprentices on how to deal with curly hair. The photo is taken from 1979.
Hairdressing in China has, however, evolved greatly over the years.
In September, Tibetan apprentices (right) hoping to make a good living from the trade learn to braid hair using mannequins in Qumarleb county, in Qinghai province’s Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture.
The rising Chinese phenomenon of online entrepreneurial villages also offers much potential for the Australian market, according to e-commerce giant Alibaba’s research team.
“There are certainly opportunities for growth here and we have been receiving inquiries about possible areas for development. For example, Australian products continue to be in demand in Chinese cities that Australian rural businesses can fill,” Sheng Zhenzhong, deputy director of the Aliresearch Institute, said on Thursday.
“We’ve seen how Australian products such as milk powder and health supplements are very popular in China.”
Sheng, who oversees Alibaba’s research center for “rural dynamics”, was speaking on the sidelines of a presentation on Chinese rural e-commerce, on the first day of the Digital Enablement Conference, organized by the Uni- versity of New South Wales Business School.
The two-day conference aimed to provide a venue for sharing cutting-edge research and networking opportunities among academia and business.
Seven years ago, groups of rural entrepreneurs who opened shops on Alibaba’s Taobao online shopping platform began appearing in China. The first of the so-called Taobao villages to take up e-commerce on a large scale was a farming community in East China’s Jiangsu province. More than 1,000 households involved in furniture production subsequently joined the digital marketplace, according to Aliresearch.
The institute describes a village as a cluster of rural electronic retailers within an administrative village, where residents get started on online commerce spontaneously, primarily using the Taobao marketplace. The total annual e-commerce transaction volume is at least 10 million Chinese yuan ($1.45 million) and at least 10 percent of village households “actively engage in e-commerce or at least 100 active online shops have been opened by villagers”.
By the end of August, there were 1,311 Taobao villages across China, according to the institute.
In the past year alone, more than 47 million people bought T-shirts, more than 16 million bought toys and more than 3.5 million bought sunglasses via the villages, among other items.
“There are also many villages that will be able to offer distinct products and some of these might meet the needs of Australian consumers, like outdoor wear and vehicle accessories,” Sheng said. “All these offer many opportunities.”
“From the institute’s perspective, we also hope to use events like this conference to tap developments and exchanges in the field overseas toward these growth areas, on top of our own work at home,” said the director.
A worker packages rural products that have been ordered online in Guantao, Hebei province, in November.