In China, these "Taobao villages" that live only e-commerce


Thousands of towns are in turmoil before Singles Day, the biggest commercial event in the world, orchestrated by Alibaba.

By Simon Leplatre Posted yesterday at 10h19

Time to Reading 4 min.

In Yuzhao Village, Zhejiang Province, July 2015.
In Yuzhao Village, Zhejiang Province, July 2015. Aly Song / REUTERS

From electric scooters to dumpsters filled with cardboard boxes, they cross a wide, cement-laden street at top speed. They load their cargo in a semi-trailer parked a little further. The packages will not leave until Monday, November 11, but the load is prepared before the day J.

This newly built commercial area in Wangying, Henan (central China) is hiring. In this village that specializes in the sale of nuts and dried fruits, recruits sort the dates and package the mix. Everyone is trying to get ahead to better manage the coming tornado: "shuangshiyi", "double 11" or "Singles Day".

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These disproportionate balances, organized by online trading giant Alibaba, have become the biggest commercial event in the world. In 2018, the group had achieved 27 billion euros of turnover in 24 hours, 27% more than the previous year. As the Chinese economy slows, consumption tends to focus on sales periods. What to let him hope for new record figures and do the business of more than 4,000 "Taobao villages", named after the main Chinese e-commerce site.

Like Wangying, these e-commerce villages have dozens of online sellers and a total turnover of more than 10 million yuan (1.3 million euros). Often, they sell only one kind of products: Christmas hats here, printing photos there.

Development of local entrepreneurship

Web traffic, marketing, Photoshop … The small bosses of the campaigns expertly handle the vocabulary of the e-merchant. Most did not finish high school or went on an apprenticeship. Wang Fenglei, 40, now at the head of 130 employees, from date fields to packing orders, began working at age 13. "I was selling fruits on a tricycle in Zhengzhou (the capital of Henan Province). At night, we slept on the street, " says he. After two years of misery, he opens a grocery store with a partner. Dates are selling well. He invests in a first orchard and another.

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In 2004, he launched his first store on Taobao, only a year after the creation of the website of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. Its success is emulated and its neighbors are also doing it. From now on, these former peasants or migrant workers park their gleaming SUVs in front of the large wooden doors surmounted by porticoes like Imperial China at the entrance to the Wangying area, where twenty-two companies are located.

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