Livestreaming e-commerce propels sale of fine goods in China's landlocked areas
Wearing her iconic brown apron and sleeves with a white cotton glove on the left hand, Qiao Xue sat at the worktable in front of her cell phone, warmly greeting her online followers.
She started the day early on November 11 — Singles Day — a grand occasion for promoting her handmade leather bags on the popular video-sharing app Douyin.
Dozens of carved leather bags were showcased on the shelves behind Qiao.
She holds the design patents for many of the products being livestreamed.
As a third-generation inheritor of the “Qiao family leathercraft,” an intangible cultural heritage in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Qiao bid farewell to her comfortable life as a white-collar worker at a foreign trade company in Beijing in 2012.
She then founded her startup, creatively integrated local elements of Ningxia such as rock paintings, desert and the Yellow River into her designs, and made customized products after data-based market demand analysis.
Qiao has livestreamed at least four hours a day almost every day since last July, sometimes just quietly carving the leather bags in front of her 520,000 followers.
Her online orders have been surging, with annual sales revenue of more than 4 million yuan (US$609,200).
“Livestreaming provides me with a great platform to showcase traditional handicrafts,” said Qiao, who has found a market online for reviving the dying craft handed down by her ancestors.
In northwest China, Ningxia lacks the environment for developing traditional e-commerce due to high logistics costs. Fortunately, the new model of livestreaming e-commerce has bright prospects.
“Traditional e-commerce grows fast in first-tier cities, while this new model can thrive in places which produce goods with local characteristics,” said Liu Yan, an expert in rural livestreaming and new media marketing for agricultural goods.
It shows product details from a very close distance and lets the buyer see the entire production process, thus enhancing consumer trust and confidence.
To make e-commerce an important engine of post-epidemic economic recovery and development, Ningxia has launched a four-month campaign that has drawn nearly 500 new local e-commerce retailers and about 400 e-commerce enterprises.
The organizers also invited lecturers from the China International Electronic Commerce Center to train local e-commerce livestreamers.
“I’ve learnt a lot from the training which will help improve my livestreaming e-commerce,” Qiao said.
Li Qi, a young man in Ningxia dedicated to helping local farmers sell goods, tried livestreaming since June in many places like a goji berry field and a vineyard. He even showed farmers digging potatoes to his 200,000 followers on Kuaishou, another major video-sharing platform.
Livestreaming e-commerce is gaining ground in rural China and adding pace to the nation’s rural vitalization.