Xiachufang, which means “to cook” (usually a homey meal), is a popular crowdsourced cooking website (also available on Android and iOS) in China for gourmet lovers and those passionate about cooking. On August 14, it launched a sub-channel, Youdiantian, which literally means “there are some fields”, to have another try in terms of monetization. Previously the site tried to make CPC/CPS-based commissions by directing users to ingredient retailers on Taobao, but it didn’t work well.
At launch, Youdiantian includes four Beijing- and Shanghai-based small organic farms and will be introducing more. Visitors can make orders on the shopping platform and browse the farms’ profiles which introduce the farms’ inventories, farming philosophies and more—things that the environmentally conscious consumers want to know about their ingredients.
Xiachufang has been known for its achievement in providing a space for passionate amateur cooks to have a voice. A community that enlists cooking talents, Xiachufang claims it prioritizes fostering social value over maximizing profits. Its move into e-commerce carries on the zeitgeist, aiming to make people more aware of the environmental factors underlying their everyday food consumption. To that end, Youdiantian will work to help independent, small-time farms reach more consumers. Xaichufang takes commissions from transactions, but CEO Wang Xu claims that the main source for revenue in the long run will most likely be ads.
China has seen a growing network of online grocery stores, mostly selling organic or high-quality food products: Benlai is an e-commerce site promoting healthy food and e-commerce giant Taobao, too, has a marketplace sourcing safe and organic food. Nonetheless, Xiachufang’s 10 million regular users give a cutting edge to Youdiantian. When it comes to blurring the line between content and commerce, Youdiantian sounds similar to Provision, a subsidiary online grocery under the food community, 52food, one of whose founders is a former New York Times food editor.
Phonetically, “Youdiantian” also means “it is kinda sweet.” For now, let’s stay tune for more buzz from the sweet and seemingly plausible idea: a cooking community driving conscious eating through e-commerce.