This piece in the New Yorker about how e-commerce, and in particular JD.com, is transforming rural China is worth a read.
In typical New Yorker fashion, it’s a good long-form read, but one that you can also listen to if that’s your thing.
What’s immediately fascinating are how important trust is to JD’s rural expansion strategy and how locals from these rural communities are used to penetrate the social networks.
Today, Xia oversees deliveries to more than two hundred villages around the Wuling Mountains, including his birthplace. But, in line with JD’s growth strategy, an equally important aspect of Xia’s job is to be a promoter for the company, getting the word out about its services. His income depends in part on the number of orders that come from his region. Across China, JD has made a policy of recruiting local representatives who can exploit the thick social ties of traditional communities to drum up business.
This is important because:
“Chinese people don’t easily believe the good will of strangers,” Liu told me. “Why do you think Chinese fight tooth and nail to get on the bus and subway?” He shook his head and laughed. “It doesn’t matter that it’s less efficient or unnecessary. It’s a complete reflex for them, because it’s what they’ve been taught since they were young.”
When you have some time, here is the full article.
According to the New Yorker, JD.com is the third largest tech company in the world in terms of revenue. They also have the largest drone delivery platform in the world.