Cousin turns proxy shop­per

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 13 Business - By FAN FEIFEI weis­hang,

I could have never imag­ined that my cousin would one day sell jew­elry through her WeChat ac­count and make a grand suc­cess of it. The busi­ness ven­ture changed her life. It also set a record of sorts in our ex­tended fam­ily — none of my rel­a­tives has ever en­gaged in busi­ness be­fore.

Five years ago, she quit her job and de­cided to start a busi­ness. First, she opened an on­line store on Alibaba’s e-mar­ket­place Taobao. She sold clothes and lux­ury prod­ucts with am­ple help from her best friend in France.

The lat­ter would chose prod­ucts and have them shipped to China. My cousin would then ped­dle them via Taobao.

The in­ter­ac­tive e-store en­abled their cus­tomers to of­fer feed­back, sugges­tions, ideas, be­sides plac­ing re­quests for spe­cific prod­ucts.

In a sense, the friend in France and my cousin were daigou — shop­ping rep­re­sen­ta­tives or proxy shop­pers. They would buy what con­sumers wanted. This as­pect is dis­tinct to China’s cross-bor­der e-com­merce.

Slowly, their in­for­mal, small-time busi­ness grew. In the process of sell­ing lux­ury prod­ucts via e-com­merce plat­forms, my cousin found jew­elry to be a very promis­ing busi­ness propo­si­tion.

She told me she was bullish on its fu­ture prospects. The in­ter­net, she said, was an­other im­por­tant sales chan­nel, a tool, if you will. At that time, I doubted that. I used to won­der how she could earn real money from a vir­tual world.

But then, she was con­fi­dent and reg­is­tered a com­pany with her sav­ings. She clinched co­op­er­a­tion deals with for­eign jew­elry com­pa­nies. She im­ported raw ma­te­ri­als, and even sought out do­mes­tic com­pa­nies that can pol­ish and pro­duce jew­elry.

At this point, the nat­u­ral busi­ness­woman in her rose to the fore. Which meant, she would not part with trade se­crets even with me, her own cousin. Busi­ness means busi­ness. More so if the cousin hap­pens to be a busi­ness jour­nal­ist, you see.

My cousin’s com­pany grew its clien­tele slowly but surely. They are a set of peo­ple who tick cer­tain boxes. Like ... Wealthy? Tick. Qual­ity-con­scious? Tick. Mod­ern-minded? Tick. Chic? Tick. Tick, tick, tick, tick ...

These are women who live in Zhe­jiang, Jiangsu and Shang­hai. About two years ago, she started sell­ing jew­elry even through her WeChat ac­count. There’s a Chi­nese word for such peo­ple — weis­hang (or on­line mi­cro-busi­ness own­ers). I have no idea how she ze­roes in on her cus­tomers.

Net­work­ing? Prob­a­bly. Friends’ friends? Maybe. Be that as it may.

I don’t get un­duly ex­cited when friends rec­om­mend that I buy cer­tain prod­ucts via WeChat. But, here’s a hard truth: more and more peo­ple in my cir­cle of friends are be­com­ing and spam­ming me with their wares.

Did some­one say hell hath

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