Alibaba to Launch Rural Shopping Event

Alibaba Group has announced that it will look to create another online shopping event in February 2016. The new shopping festival will coincide with the Spring Festival in February and is designed to tap into China’s rural market.

The new festival—which is something that Alibaba has being doing on a smaller scale for a few years already—comes on the back of the record breaking Singles’ Day shopping event, which generated a gross merchandise volume of US$14.3 billion in 24 hours.

More than 45 percent of China’s population (around 600 million people) still live in rural areas. While e-commerce has pretty thoroughly penetrated Chinese urban areas, Alibaba and other groups are actively looking to strengthen their presence in China’s rural areas.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba, said “The shopping event will better serve rural consumers and bring more agricultural products to the dining tables of urban consumers.”

The Spring Festival event will be launched by Alibaba’s Taobao team and Rural TaoBao, an arm of the company that focuses on rural e-commerce.

Sun Lijun, vice-president of Alibaba, told China Daily that the Spring Festival shopping gala will help narrow the gap between urban and rural consumers.

“We want villagers to celebrate Lunar Chinese New Year with seafood from New Zealand and wine from France. That said, we also want urban residents to enjoy high-quality fresh produce delivered directly to their doorsteps,” he said.

According to Alibaba, globalisation and rural development are its top development priorities. Last year, the company announced that it will invest RMB10 billion over the next three to five years to provide e-commerce services in around 100,000 villages.

While there is a massive Chinese rural market for the Spring Festival event to tap into, it will be a long way from reaching the dizzying heights of Singles’ Day. Rural TaoBao contributed about US$47 million to Alibaba’s colossal Singles’ Day total, according to Tech in Asia. China’s rural market may be big, but it does not yet have the resources to match the epic spending of China’s urban population.

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