Alibaba’s flash sale and marketing platform Juhuasuan said on Monday that it has updated its virtual farming feature “Jutudi” allowing farmers access to consumer sales data so that they can more accurately plan crops based on current consumer trends.
Why it’s important: Technological innovations are increasing efficiency in China’s agricultural industry. Traditionally, farmers plan their crop based on sales of the previous season. By gaining insights into user demand, crops can be planned more efficiently and costs brought by the disconnection between consumer demand and supply are lowered.
- In addition to Alibaba, Chinese e-commerce platforms like Pinduoduo and JD are also speeding up their digital farming initiatives.
- Consumer insight is particularly critical for farmers who raise specialty crops for niche markets.
“Supported by the entire Alibaba ecosystem, Jutudi leverages the algorithm from Alibaba Cloud to help farmers plan their crops and harvest. Our smart logistics network, Cainiao, offers expedited delivery services to ensure freshness. Moreover, consumers can take advantage of flash sales on Juhuasuan to get the best bargains.”
—Liu Bo, general manager of Tmall and Taobao Marketing
Details: Based on Juhuasuan’s flash sale and collective buying model, Jutudi lets consumers pre-order agricultural products before the harvest. In addition, the new Jutudi offers farmers and cooperatives analytics insights to improve their crop and supply chain management.
- The platform works directly with the cooperatives or the farmers to bypass middlemen such as wholesalers and distributors. Consumers enjoy discounts of 30% to 50% lower than regular prices, according to a statement from Alibaba.
- Around 20 different cooperatives from provinces including Heilongjiang, Henan, Jiangxi, and Gansu have joined the initiative. Many of the farms are in poverty-stricken regions.
- The plan is to widen the reach to at least 1,000 farming cooperatives in two years.
- Farmers costs decreased by 10% by leveraging technology-based tools, such as using artificial intelligence (AI) to standardize crop management, according to Alibaba.
Context: Launched in 2014, Jutudi was originally a gamified virtual farming project where lands leased to Alibaba by farmers were then divided into plots and leased to online subscribers. The plots were managed by farm cooperatives, and subscribers would “tend” to the plots online by performing tasks such as plowing, weeding, and watering. Once the crop was ready, farmers deliver the produce to consumers.
- Pinduoduo is running a similar virtual farming feature called “Duo Duo Orchard.” Introduced in May 2018 as an incentive feature for customers to browse and purchase, the company now says it has more than 11 million daily active users (DAU) who log on to the game to water their trees.