Employees of an e-commerce company in Yichang, central China’s Hubei province promote navel oranges produced in Zigui, a county in Yichang on a livestream platform of social app WeChat, April 19. They have sold 50,000 kilograms of the navel oranges. Photo by Wang Gang, People’s Daily Online
Employees of an e-commerce company in Yichang, central China’s Hubei province promote navel oranges produced in Zigui, a county in Yichang on a livestream platform of social app WeChat, April 19. They have sold 50,000 kilograms of the navel oranges. Photo by Wang Gang, People’s Daily Online

By Li Jiabao

Major Chinese e-commerce platforms are now assisting Hubei province, former epicenter of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, to expand sales channels of its agricultural products and groceries, contributing to the recovery of the province’s economy and work resumption of its enterprises.

“Hubei sections” are something that major online marketplaces have been trying to promote recently, where the province’s products are presented to consumers in just clicks.

For instance, over 20,000 kinds of farm produce from 50 places of Hubei have been put onto shelves on the “Hubei section” of Taobao, an e-commerce platform under Alibaba. According to the platform, it will hold more than 100 promotional activities for Hubei’s agricultural products between April and June.

China’s fast-growing online group discounter Pinduoduo also contributed its efforts to helping Hubei’s economy. Through cooperation with Hubei Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, it launched an exclusive collection of Hubei’s products on its mobile application, the first of its kind set up by the e-commerce giant.

Pinduoduo’s rival JD.com launched an online activity, distributing 100 million yuan of coupons to encourage the customers to “buy out” the products from the province.

Besides, livestream marketing is also applied to alleviate Hubei’s stagnant sales of farm produce. News anchors, influencers, and even heads of cities and counties in the province joined livestream shows and advertised Hubei specialties.

It is reported that Douyin, a popular Chinese short-video app, has planned 13 livestreaming shows for 13 prefectures and cities of Hubei to promote their agricultural products, food, and consumer goods. The activities will be joined by the mayors of all the 13 places.

According to statistics, as of April 17, major e-commerce platforms had sold a total of 796,000 tons of agricultural products from Hubei province and witnessed 12.8 million online transactions.

Major Chinese internet companies are also “fast-forwarding” Hubei’s economy with technological support.

Pledging to make it easier for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to advertise their products and help Hubei with “influencer economy”, Douyin exempted certification fees for Hubei enterprises and offered free online marketing courses for them. It also adopted measures to support livestream hosts and planners.

Suning Cloud Store recently provided pairing assistance for nearly 200 of its franchised stores in Hubei, raising subsidies for the latter.

JD.com announced recently that it will invest more than 6 billion yuan ($849 million) in Hubei in the next three years, in a bid to help boost the economic recovery and development of local SMEs. The e-commerce giant will render full support to Hubei to build new infrastructure, propel the upgrading of the logistics industry and help sell local agricultural products to consumers across the nation.

“Alibaba is willing to give full play to its advantages in digital technology and commerce, integrating the capabilities of the whole platform to help the provincial capital Wuhan in epidemic prevention and control, economic recovery and enterprise services, and promote the overall recovery of consumption, manufacturing, as well as domestic and foreign trade as soon as possible,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.

“In the past 70 days, more than 18 million people have posted videos to cheer up Hubei and Wuhan on Douyin. Now, we hope to take more concrete actions to help the optimistic, positive and brave people of Hubei and accelerate the economic recovery of the province,” said Zhang Nan, CEO of Douyin.

Industry insiders pointed out that the Internet Plus strategy has revitalized Hubei’s economy. The Internet has given full play to its advantages in epidemic prevention and control, not only reducing human contacts, but also stabilizing the economy and facilitating development. It has also played a big role in facilitating the people and benefiting enterprises. Thanks to the internet sector, Hubei’s containment efforts and economic development have both been guaranteed.

The Internet economy has unlimited potential for development. It should seize the opportunity, as well as make active exploration and steady progress, so as to bring dynamic power to Hubei’s economic recovery.

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