E-shop­ping gets a ru­ral foothold

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By WANG QINGYUN in Huichang, Jiangxi wangqingyun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Edi­tor's Note: After vis­it­ing Huichang, a county in East China’s Jiangxi prov­ince, in April, China Daily made another trip in late July to dis­cover more about the ef­forts the Huichang gov­ern­ment has made to not only de­velop the county’s econ­omy, but also to im­prove its gov­er­nance and cul­tural at­mos­phere.

Equip­ping her gro­cery store with an elec­tronic touch screen for plac­ing on­line orders was a good busi­ness de­ci­sion for owner Hong Qinglan, a res­i­dent of Dax­iba, Huichang county, Jiangxi prov­ince.

The screen, which looks like a giant smart­phone stand­ing in the store, helps shop­pers browse through var­i­ous goods of­fered by com­pa­nies both lo­cally and all around China.

Cus­tomers add the items they want to an on­line shop­ping cart, and then give the money to Hong, who places the or­der from her on­line ac­count. The goods are then de­liv­ered to her store and cus­tomers can pick them up.

The screens are pro­vided by e-com­merce com­pany zhc365.com, with the goal of bring­ing more ru­ral res­i­dents into the world of on­line shop­ping at a time when­the busi­ness model has swept ur­ban China but has yet to ex­pand dra­mat­i­cally in ru­ral ar­eas. Many ru­ral res­i­dents don’t know how to buy things on­line, and de­liv­ery ser­vices sel­dom reach the vil­lages where they live.

Zhang Zu­liang, man­ager of the Huichang branch of the com­pany, said about 90 per­cent of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties have the screens, and his branch has 12 trucks that make daily de­liv­er­ies.

Hong, the store owner, said the in­tro­duc­tion of e-shop­ping has ben­e­fited her busi­ness.

“Be­fore this, I couldn’t sell things such as clothes and pow­dered milk, as my busi­ness li­cense doesn’t cover these items,” she said. “But now I can of­fer these things through this screen.”

Yang Yun­hua, a 37-year-old res­i­dent who had sel­dom shopped on­line be­fore, said hehas­spent sev­er­alt­hou­sand yuan on­line in­Hong’s store.

“It will cost you sev­eral yuan and some time if you take a bus to the down­town area to shop and come back. But now I only have to take a short walk to this store to choose on the screen what I want to buy,” he said.

The com­pany that de­vel­ope­dthe­mod­eliso­neof three e-com­mer­ce­plat­form­swhose de­liv­ery ser­vice reaches vil­lages in Huichang county, said Xu Bin­feng, deputy direc­tor of the county’s e-com­merce de­vel­op­ment of­fice.

The com­pa­nies are work­ing to break through “the last kilo­me­ter” be­fore goods ar­rive at the homes of ru­ral res­i­dents. To­date, therel­a­tively small num­ber of ship­ments and less de­vel­oped trans­port in­fra­struc­ture have damp­ened the de­vel­op­ment of de­liv­ery ser­vices to China’s ru­ral ar­eas. But they’re bet­ting that will change with greater ac­cess to on­line shop­ping.

On­line en­cour­age­ment

Along with bring­ing in com­pa­nies that make on­line shop­ping more ac­ces­si­ble, Huichang­coun­ty­has­comeup with a se­ries of plans and poli­cies to de­velop lo­cal on­line busi­nesses, in­clud­ing set­ting up an e-com­merce in­cu­ba­tor last year to foster growth.

Now 39 com­pa­nies are op­er­at­ing in the cen­ter — among them an on­line food mar­ket set up by the county gov­ern­ment in March last year. It sells 32 foods­madeby lo­cal com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing dried tofu and rice noo­dles.

Ac­cord­ing to the data pro­vided by Xu, the county of­fi­cial, the mar­ket has been vis­ited more than 1.2 mil­lion times, and its rev­enue has reached 6.14 mil­lion yuan.

Xu said hav­ing the com­pa­nies to­gether in a sin­gle in­cu­ba­tor lo­ca­tion “helps nur­ture an at­mos­phere friendly to e-com­merce”.

Also help­ing to nur­ture the at­mos­phere are var­i­ous free train­ing pro­grams of­fered by the cen­ter. This year it has pre­sented 14 on­line busi­ness train­ing cour­ses for 738 peo­ple, of whom 125 are liv­ing in poverty.

Each course lasts seven days, with seven hours of train­ing each day.

What’s more, to en­cour­age peo­ple to im­prove their fi­nan­cial con­di­tion by open­ing on­line stores, the county gov­ern­ment ap­proved a pol­icy that pro­vides a 5,000-yuan ($752) sub­sidy to young peo­ple liv­ing in poverty if their on­line stores have been op­er­at­ing for at least six months and their sales have reached 50,000 yuan.

Lan Shiy­ong is among those who have re­ceived the sub­sidy.

The 26-year-old opened two on­line stores sell­ing food an­dleather­crafts lo­cally after re­ceiv­ing a month of train­ing at the e-com­merce in­cu­ba­tion cen­ter in­Novem­ber.

Lan said he learned about web page de­sign and the op­er­a­tion of on­line stores dur­ing the train­ing — which he said “in­deed helped a lot”.

Lan, whose fam­ily is poor, said he now owns three on­line stores that make a profit of more than 3,000 yuan a month, and he has free use of of­fice space at the in­cu­ba­tor cen­ter.

“My in­come is much bet­ter,” he said, adding that he be­lieves he can lift his fam­ily out of poverty through his on­line busi­nesses.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

A touch screen for plac­ing on­line orders was in­stalled at a store in Dax­iba, Jiangxi prov­ince.

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