Oct 14, 2022|
How JD.com Made a Produce Star out of Suqian Hairy Crabs
by Vivian Yang
More than 160,000 “Suqian Hairy Crabs” were sold on JD.com in less than three weeks during the first Harvest Carnival and Shopping Festival of Agricultural Specialties this September. The crabs emerged as a top-ranking best-selling category on the platform during this crab season, marking another milestone for JD in empowering high-quality yet less well-known agricultural products, an ambitious goal the company has set for itself in contributing to China’s rural revitalization on its own terms.
Suqian, a humble city in northern Jiangsu province, is blessed with variegated waters including the Hongze and Luoma lakes. These lakes are perfect breeding homes for hairy crabs, but their marketability has long been curbed by conditions including scattered raisers, varying quality resulting in the undercutting of purchasing prices, and weak branding.
To tackle these hurdles and build up a local specialty image, the Suqian Rural Bureau joined hands with JD.com in early 2021. Under an all-around partnership, JD supported local farms to establish standardized crab-raising systems, jointly developed product criteria for “Suqian Hairy Crabs” and its source-tracing system, and set up near-shore warehouses for temporary crab farming, hand-picking, packing and fresh delivery. On the marketing and sales side, JD offered over RMB 10 million worth of resources and leveraged its omni-channel capabilities to incubate the brand, as well as implementing strict brand authorizing policies, with the sole purpose of introducing the best Suqian hairy crabs to customers nationwide.
Thanks to all these efforts, during last year’s Singles’ Day Grand Promotion, sales of Suqian hairy crabs increased 600 times YoY; and that of the whole year rose by 173 times. Moreover, JD also brought the crabs to the limelight during China’s 2022 Spring Festival gala show on national TV , which JD was selected as this year’s exclusive interactive partner, to let the whole country know about the name of the crabs.
“Many people of my generation who grew up in the countryside are eager to change our hometowns for the better, but oftentimes, our condescending and wishful thinking will do no good,” said Richard Liu, Chairman of JD.com. As a Suqian native who feels indebted to his hometown and the village folks who all chipped in for his university tuition, Mr. Liu has a natural calling and grounded understanding of supporting rural development. “We need to bend down, see the details and think in their shoes, then start with patience from the basic business infrastructure work,” he added.
As early as 2015, JD.com introduced the “3F plan”, namely Factory to Country, Finance to Country, and Farm to Table, which is designed to form a complete loop to boost the rural economy in which farmers receive financial and other support in selling produce, and then are able to purchase more industrial supplies for a better life and greater reproduction.
After years of investment on infrastructure in rural areas, in October 2020, JD.com further announced the “March to Rich Plan (MRP)”, aiming to establish a modernized circulation system with its digitally intelligent supply chain capabilities, to promote both high-quality agricultural products and the consumption upgrading in China. The plan vowed to drive RMB 1 trillion yuan output value for rural areas in China in three years’ time span, and by this August, it has achieved more than RMB 620 billion yuan in 22 months. Millions of farmers have directly benefited from the MRP that helped increase their income remarkably.