With the rapid adoption of the internet and the rising income of rural residents, e-commerce is no longer something exclusive to city dwellers. Villages in Zhejiang province, the hometown of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, are riding the e-tide to achieve stellar growth.
Currently, the southeastern province has more than 280 "Taobao" villages, the largest number in China, each of which handles at least 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) worth of e-commerce transactions every year, according to Aliresearch, Alibaba's research institute.
"What's special about the trend is that it is a natural development, rather than something organized by the government," said Sheng Zhenzhong, an analyst at Aliresearch. "When villagers realize the convenience of e-commerce, they spontaneously form into village-based online business clusters."
By leveraging the internet, rural residents efficiently expand the reach of local specialties to nationwide consumers. Each of these Taobao villages runs at least 100 active online stores, or at least 10 percent of local households engaged in online business.
According to Sheng, Zhejiang's thriving culture of doing business and its good industrial basis have contributed to the explosive growth of e-commerce villages, which are near to either production bases or big trade markets.
For instance, Qingyanliu, a village in central Zhejiang, takes full advantage of its geographical proximity to Yiwu, the city which is home to the world's largest wholesale market for small consumer goods such as toys and headwear.
In 2014, the village's online sales volume exceeded 3.5 billion yuan.