Ecommerce Leader Alibaba Sets Its Sights On Rural Markets

Written by: Mashiat Chowdhury

Globally, Chinese company Alibaba is currently heralded as the largest e-commerce company in the world, surpassing competitors E-bay and Amazon. Its total transaction was estimated at $248 billion the year before, greater than the two aforementioned companies combined. This impressive figure, however, has not clogged its attempts to consistently tap into new markets, with rural ecommerce being its latest endeavour. Here’s how it describes “the dream”.

China is a country where about half of its people reside in the countryside. Despite rapid urbanization and development in its cities, such impacts on the countryside remain lukewarm due to lesser education, internet services and poorer infrastructure.  This brings to surface that China’s rural areas are still massive untapped markets for e-commerce companies. Not anymore, though. Alibaba’s CEO, Jack Ma, has big plans.

He believes that the Chinese economy would change fundamentally once the rural areas, too, became wealthy. The gap in digitization between the two would increase over time, but not due to technology. It would be, as he described it, because of a “whether-or-not-you’re-ready-to-accept-these-advances” problem. Therefore the first step to overcoming this issue would be building the bridge between the rural areas and the cities via e-commerce. Alibaba made a test run in the rural county of Suicheng in Zhejiang province for two years, only to reveal how massive its consumption potential was. Also brought to light was the growing popularity of agricultural e-commerce, fueled by health concerns worldwide.

Jack Ma dreams of introducing e-commerce to all the rural areas of China, just like it had to its two test sites Suicheng and Guangdong. Alibaba genuinely plans to do something about economic development rather than it being all talk. Through the introduction of e-commerce, rural people would have a portal to city life, not to mention sell their own goods there. Thus Alibaba would step up its expenditure in the rural financial industry, use large data cloud computing and provide solutions to all the efficiency problems and make life easier for people by enabling them to purchase and sell goods online.

He stated, “Let the rural people return to the earth, let the intellectuals return to the farms, and send the products of their agriculture all over the nation. Then there will truly be [a culture of] consumption/spending.”

In the 1950’s, China had imposed a rule to rusticate the youth of the urban cities to the countryside to set up farms, in an effort to ensue economic development. This movement was called “Up to the mountains and down to the countryside”, and eventually failed. Alibaba’s rural e-commerce plan has no intentions of failing, though. It seeks to achieve just what this movement had once sought to: develop the Chinese economy.

About The Author
Mashiat is an impulsive, freelance writer. Her interests are eclectic, ranging from World History to new developments in research. To her, even doing rewrite articles is a form of self-expression – the way you choose to deliver the news represents the person that you are.

SD Asia Desk