Lunar New Year

Alibaba plans five-day ‘farmer’s festival’ to drive e-commerce in Chinese hinterlands over Lunar New Year

With aid of Rural Taobao and Cainiao Logistics, nation’s online shopping juggernaut aims to tap broader Chinese market with series of events for this Spring Festival to build on success of Singles Day

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 4:23pm

Alibaba Group, which pioneered the Singles Day retail event in China that falls on November 11, is poised to make an all-out assault on the mainland’s largely untapped rural e-commerce market, with the launch of a five-day Lunar New Year online shopping festival from Sunday.

The world’s largest e-commerce services provider has mobilised affiliate Cainiao Logistics to bolster its “last-mile” delivery network in more than 270 counties and about 13,000 villages to support the new festival, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.

Cainiao’s big-data analysis and logistics infrastructure, including warehouses in five provinces, are expected to enhance delivery services during the festival.

“Based on Cainiao’s big-data analysis, merchants on Alibaba platforms can deliver products that are expected to sell well to Cainiao’s county-level operations centres in advance,” the Alibaba spokeswoman said.

We aim to enable rural customers to access an extensive range of New Year goods from home and abroad, while making agriculture products from rural China more available among urban customers
Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong

Those products are expected to arrive at the door of consumers in as little as 24 hours after the online orders are placed.”

Rural Taobao, the unit of Alibaba responsible for developing e-commerce business in the Chinese hinterlands, is spearheading the new online shopping festival with consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao Marketplace, business-to-consumer site and group-buying service Juhuasuan.

“The 11.11 shopping festival is designed for netizens, while the Chinese New Year Shopping Festival is created for farmers,” Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma Yun said last month when the company first spoke about its rural shopping initiative.

Rural Taobao’s mandate includes organising free Chinese opera performances for rural communities and sponsor 13,000 rural service centre managers to host 10,000 New Year’s Eve dinners for the elderly, children and the disabled in each village with cuisine from all over the world.

It will also arrange for more than 500 premium overseas brands — including Uniqlo, Huggies, Estee Lauder and Lancome — to be available for the first time in the countryside.

Tmall Global, which runs the platform for overseas online merchants to sell in China, has opened a cross-border “online-to-offline experience centre” in the showcase district of Yujiapu in Tianjin, an industrial municipality near Beijing, to enable consumers in northern China to purchase branded products curated from around the world.

In addition, Tmall Global will work with eight country pavilions and some of the world’s major supermarkets, department stores and duty-free shops to provide premium goods during the festival.

“By hosting the sale, we hope to help sustain our traditional culture while also injecting new elements into the festival,” Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong said last month.

“We aim to enable rural customers to access an extensive range of New Year goods from home and abroad, while making agriculture products from rural China more available among urban customers.”

Based in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Alibaba did not provide any estimates for the festival’s gross merchandise volume (GMV), which represents the total value of goods sold online during a specific period.

Alibaba posted total GMV of US$14.3 billion, all settled through its Alipay affiliate, on November 11. About 68.7 per cent of that was taken up by mobile transactions.