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Farm-to-home shopping takes root on Tencent’s Weishi short video platform

Weishi launched its Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival Shopping Season in a bid to get more farmers selling their produce on the the platform.

Tencent Weishi livestreaming e-commerce Tencent Weishi livestreaming. Photo provided to KrASIA

Nearly 20 officials from rural counties in China, along with three well-known actors, used livestreaming to sell fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods from farm to home on Monday via Tencent Weishi, a short video and livestreaming platform, social media giant Tencent (HKG: 0700) announced in a press release.

The officials and actors, who included Yu Yuexian of countryside romance Xiangcun Aiqing Gushi (2006) fame, sold everything from pomelos to rice to crabs as part of the one-day promotion, sourced from farms in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Qinghai, and other provinces.  The event was part of Weishi’s so-called Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival Shopping Season, which the platform launched on Monday to boost online sales of such products. Weishi users could buy the goods directly on the platform while watching the livestreams.

According to Tencent, promoting farm-to-home produce via e-commerce livestreaming has become a key part of Weishi’s business development strategy since the second half of this year. As Chinese people across the country increasingly buy fresh groceries online, digital platforms that leverage this trend look to reap billions of dollars from sales.

China digest

For example, over 240 million users have bought agricultural products on group-buying platform Pinduoduo in 2019, amounting to RMB 136.4 billion (USD 19.3 billion), more than double compared with sales of RMB 65.3 billion (USD 9.2 billion) in 2018, the company revealed in April this year.

Pinduoduo, which has started allowing merchants on its platform to livestream since the beginning of this year, predicts annual gross merchandise volume on its platform from agriculture to exceed RMB 1 trillion (USD 146 billion) in annual GMV in five years, according to a newsletter the company sent to KrASIA on August 27. Pinduoduo revealed to KrASIA in another newsletter, dated August 25, that users bought more than 25,000 kilograms of Guangdong lychees during a livestreaming session by Lao Lishi, an Olympic diver, in May.

“Agriculture is a sector that touches the largest number of people and yet had the least amount of digitization in the past decades,” said Chen Lei, CEO of Pinduoduo, in the newsletter. “Any technology that can improve productivity and efficiency along the agriculture value chain would have a huge impact.”

Weishi, on the other hand, is a relative latecomer in farming-livestreaming. However, the company highlighted in the press release that the platform helped struggling farmers in Sichuan sell 40 tons of oranges via short video since the second half of 2019.

“The combination of short videos, livestreaming, and the rural economy is an inevitable outcome of the development of the internet,” said Li La, vice general manager of the ecosystem cooperation department of Tencent, which is a key investor for Pinduoduo. He added that more and more agricultural firms are capitalizing on short videos and livestreaming to boost sales.

Read this: The challenges of transitioning China’s rural economy to livestreaming