E-commerce sweetens orange appeal
Li Zhihao from Lianjiang is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs trading his way to success via e-commerce platforms. What makes him different from other vendors that offer a wide range of products is that Li only sells one - oranges.
Zhanjiang's Lianjiang in South China's Guangdong province is renowned for its red oranges. Thanks to its fertile soil and favorable climate, the oranges are famous for being large (an average Lianjiang orange weighs about 150 grams), sweet and slightly sour, and most of all, juicy.
Born in Lianjiang, Li is taking advantage of the oranges' appeal and is hoping to spread sales across the whole country.
Li Zhihao inspects oranges before packaging and distribution. [Photo by Zhang Yongxing/gdzjdaily.com.cn]
As a son of a fruit farmer, Li was familiar with the issues which most commonly affect yields such as inclement weather and market fluctuations – all of which can have a huge impact on profits.
After graduating from Dongguan University of Technology in 2014 with a degree in business administration, marketing and branding, Li decided to apply what he had learned into orange sales, and help local farmers out.
The following year saw nationwide innovation in conventional industries with the introduction of Internet Plus, the application of the internet and other information technology. By improving packaging, establishing distribution channels and cooperating with e-commerce platforms, Li seized the opportunity.
In 2015, he won a contract to run an operation near Lianjiang's most famous Hongjiang Farm, to plant "Hongjitou" oranges for his registered brand "Yuexi Jiaguo" – which translates to "quality fruit west of Guangdong".
Lianjiang's oranges are famous for being big, sweet and juicy. [Photo/zjphoto.yinsha.com]
To widen the revenue spectrum, the farm is open to the public, allowing visitors to see how they are grown and even pick their own.
By scanning QR codes on the orange trees, visitors are able to directly place orders via WeChat or Taobao.
For Li, quality is the top priority. "I inspect every box of oranges before they are sent out," said Li. "Any oranges failing to meet my standard will be replaced."
The farm's high quality and low prices have accumulated loyal customers both online and off. To meet large demands, Li has opened more than 30 stores in Maoming, Zhuhai, and Foshan.
Li has also designated more than 300 sales agents, training them how to distinguish authentic Lianjiang oranges. So far this year, the total sales volume for Li's agents has averaged 1,500 kilograms per day.
Visitors pick their own Lianjiang oranges. [Photo by Chen Liqiang/zjphoto.yinsha.com]
In 2015, the farm sold 10,000 boxes of oranges, selling out in record time. This year, sales are expected to leap to more than 50,000 boxes.
Li said he will next establish cooperation with other fruit farmers, purchasing their quality oranges, so as to meet demand. He also plans to extend his online distribution channels by cooperating with e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.com.
The future looks bright for Li, as he rides the swelling tide of e-commerce innovation, with the Zhanjiang government planning to make the red orange industry bigger and stronger.