Taobao, the world’s largest e-commerce website, has announced plans to help areas in poverty by equipping 1,000 farmers from 100 rural counties to become live-stream hosts.
The marketplace is increasingly popular with Chinese consumers; an estimated 456 million viewers used the site in 2018. It offers a consumer-to-consumer shopping experience where customers can shop for products via live-stream videos while interacting with others.
Although Taobao is primarily used for purchasing apparel and beauty, the platform aims to expand its variety of products.
As part of the Alibaba Poverty Relief Fund, the rural live-stream programme will allow farmers to engage with customers, giving them a platform to sell their products and increase their profit margins.
Providing a platform where farmers can sell their specialty goods without having to input resources into marketing will enable them to increase profits substantially. Therefore, the plan has the potential to lift thousands out of poverty in rural China, promising yearly sales in just one month.
The implications of the scheme must be considered. Is the infrastructure in place for these farmers to have a huge surge in sales? This marketplace challenges the supply chain that is currently in place, there may be unintended consequences for this new structure such as job loss.
Furthermore, a consumer-to-consumer marketplace means that the products that farmers are selling will be going to individuals, rather than being sold to stores in bulk. What does this mean for distribution? With more products being sold in smaller quantities, the CO2 emissions from transport are likely to significantly increase.
What could the expansion of live-streaming on a global scale mean? A move to online purchasing increases store closures and consumption, followed by job loss and strain on resources. However, small businesses and individuals without assets to properly market their products will benefit financially, and in turn, have a better quality of life.
The move recalls a 24-hour educational TV channel launched in India in 2015 for real-time information-sharing between farmers.