21 August 2015.
The Chinese company Tom Group has entered the battle to reach China's rural online shoppers.
Rural communities are becoming increasingly more connected, with affordable low-end smartphones meaning that more and more rural people now have access to the internet.
With a rural population of 600 million, rural China is a key frontier for future ecommerce growth.
Tom Group, in partnership with China Post, jointly own an ecommerce site called Ule.
The partnership gives Ule an edge over competitors in terms of logistics and distribution power.
A Tom Group spokesperson said: “As at the end of June, more than 80,000 of China Post's branded franchised stores in rural parts of most provinces across the mainland had joined Ule's ecommerce platform.”
Its efforts seem to be paying off, with Ule having seen an almost 200% increase in gross merchandise volume in the first 6 months of this year alone.
Ule is not the only ecommerce site to turn its attention to the Chinese rural market.
Earlier this year, Alibaba teamed up with China Telecom to deliver more affordable smartphones to people living in rural China. It also announced plans to invest 10 billion Yuan in the next 5 years to build more operating centres in rural areas.