East China’s Inner City Caoxian Becomes Second-Largest E-Commerce Hub in the Country


A merchant introduces Hanfu in Caoxian, east China’s Shandong Province. Photo: Qi Xijia / GT

When young people in Caoxian County, east China’s Shangdong Province, get married, some of them will inherit their parents’ online stores as a wedding gift, a custom unique in the world. China’s second largest e-commerce cluster.

Interior County recently became a trending topic in China after a short video uploaded by a local influencer bragged about his hometown using China’s short video platform Douyin.

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In fact, the small county is the biggest stage costume manufacturing base, especially Hanfu, and the second largest production base in Taobao after Yiwu City in east China’s Zhejiang Province.

It is home to 18,000 Taobao stores which account for 70% of costume sales sold online.

In 2020, the county was home to more than 5,000 e-commerce businesses and more than 60,000 online stores, achieving 15.6 billion yuan ($ 2.44 billion) in online sales. E-commerce has helped 350,000 people start their own businesses and find jobs.

Li Aihua wouldn’t imagine e-commerce would make her one million yuan a month when she assembled the first personal computer in 2009, after a friend of hers in Hanzhou, eastern Zhejiang Province. from China, suggested that he put his costume-making business online.

“It’s not easy at first. It takes me a long time to learn how to communicate with our customers. My store has seen our customers increase for over six months a year until I get my first order to make a lot of fashionable uniforms, ”Li said.

The store has since taken off and saw sales reach one million yuan in May, breaking its 2019 record. To keep up with booming online orders, Li has to outsource orders to four factories scattered around the outside the county.

“We are working hard to catch up with the growing number of incoming orders as the country prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC on July 1. Some customer service workers had to stay until 3 a.m. everyday to check in on new ones online. orders, ”Li said.

Currently, 20,000 people have been lifted out of poverty through e-commerce and 50,000 people have been encouraged to return to work in their hometowns.

“I do business outside the country. After hearing that e-commerce is so booming that I can’t wait to return home to do business in my hometown,” said Li Jiqing, owner of an embroidery factory at Global Fois.

At Li’s factory, four production lines simultaneously add embroidery to hundreds of garments, which will then be made into Hanfu costumes, packaged and shipped to major cities across the country.

Currently, Caoxian is home to more than 2,000 Hanfu processing merchants like Li, who sell about a third of Hanfu clothing in China.

Live streaming business

A new business format like live streaming has significantly boosted the Hanfu industry in Caoxian County, with some of the top live broadcasters able to make 10,000 yuan per day just through a 3-hour live broadcast.

Wang Fengqing opened an account on the Kuaishou live streaming platform last October and saw his fans grow to 40,000 from scratch.

“The conversion rate of fans and buyers is very high. Although we are only live for three hours a day, we are able to sell five hundred sets of Hanfu, or around 10,000 yuan. My record is selling. over 1,200 sets in a single live stream, ”said Wang.

Online orders also pushed its offline sales to increase by 50% in May.

“After Caoxian went viral, people knocked on my door at midnight asking for trendy products,” Wang said.

To promote live broadcasting in a large-scale industry, the county organized free e-commerce training for local villagers and set up training incubation centers in 27 towns in the county.

In 2020, the county hosted a total of 266 training sessions, covering 10,264 people and incubated more than 1,000 new online stores. In 2021, the county plans to add 3,000 new online stores to the chart.

Gao Lu, an official at a live broadcast incubator in Caoxian told the Global Times that since the platform opened in May, nearly 50 live streamers have been broadcasting at the same time, promoting traditional clothing. Han style.

The incubator would provide the goods, location and training for live broadcasters and all they need are smartphones connected to high-speed internet, Gao said.

“We would train them to interact with the audience and present the products,” Gao said.

“Since we launched the platform in May, some of the best live broadcasters can earn 400 yuan per day,” he added.

The flexible time, low investment, and free training have attracted many people to get started in the business. Ma Wenshu, a new live streamer with an incubator is able to sell dozens of clothes after completing the training.

Having worked in the restaurant business, the middle-aged Caoxian woman saw live streaming as her new career.

“Now is the era of e-commerce live streaming. I don’t want to be left behind by this era. I just want to take a chance,” Ma said.

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