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Chinese village taps rural e-commerce

04-10-2012 13:50 BJT

FUZHOU, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Rural e-commerce has tickled some southeast Chinese villagers pink, who are selling their agricultural products, such as tea, vegetables, fruits and even baby chicks, on an e-commerce platform.

Century Village, an online C2C (customer-to-customer) and B2C (business-to-customer) platform, was established by Lantian village in Fujian Province in 2008. Villagers can post their sales and purchasing information, as well as their contacts, on this site. Payments can be made online or offline.

Village resident Xu Yingde started his online business by selling mango seeds over two years ago. Back then, he noticed a farm had posted a request on Century Village for mango seeds. Later, Xu replied and concluded his first online deal.

"Now that we have an online platform to exchange information, doing business becomes easier," Xu Yingde said.

Century Village was founded by Pan Chunlai, a Lantian village official. He said he was inspired to develop e-commerce from his personal experiences. Once he wanted to buy a turkey but didn't know where to get one. After asking various people, he was surprised to find his neighbor had one for sale.

"How come I didn't know that?" Pan said. "I realized our life would become much easier if we had an online platform where everybody could post their sales and purchasing information."

For villagers who don't have a computer, they can go to a so-called "information point" for help.

The "information points" are grocery stores scattered in the village. After some training, store owners become information collectors of Century Village, helping other villagers post online. They charge a commission once a deal is complete. Some large groceries are even equipped with touch-screen computers to help famers.

Century Village's online shops also sell appliances such as televisions and washing machines.

Small items are sometimes sold between farmers directly, after they find the information online and complete the deal offline. Some at the "information points" work as deliverymen themselves.

Currently Century village has over 40,000 registered members who are expanding their businesses online.

Xu Zuhui, a 47-year-old mushroom farmer in the village, had never used a computer until four years ago, and it was beyond his imagination to make a fortune with it.

Before 2008, Xu had been doing business by riding his motorcycle for miles to a nearby town at night, and selling mushrooms in the morning. But he soon abandoned the old business module after being introduced to the platform.

Through rural e-commerce, Xu Zuhui's daily revenue has grown from less than 100 yuan (15.90 U.S. dollars) to over 10,000 yuan. He's not only selling his own mushrooms but also those from other villagers. His children, who used to plan to work in cities, now stay at home to help out.

"Now I don't have to ride miles just to sell mushrooms. It feels really good to do business at home," Xu Zuhi said.

Over the past three years, Century Village has developed at a staggering rate. Now with a monthly turnover of over 200 million yuan, the platform has attracted sellers from other parts of China and has grown into one of the best known e-commerce sites in Fujian Province.

However, the limited use of the Internet in rural China hinders the overall development of rural e-commerce. According to China Internet Network Information Center, China had 136 million rural Internet users in 2011, which accounted for 26.5 percent of its total Internet users. Compared with 2010, the ratio dropped by 0.8 percent.

But Pan Chunlai still hopes one day Century Village can develop into China's rural version of eBay, encompassing villages across the country.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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