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Behind Crazy Single's Day Shopping Spree
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  • Chen Xiaoying, 26, from south China's Guangdong Province

    Chen established her online fashion store "New French Elegance" on Taobao with her classmates after graduating from university in Australia in 2014. Her parents gave her 1 million yuan ($157,000) to start the company, but it was almost all gone after the first three months. Singles’ Day in 2014 was her last chance to make the business a success. She succeeded with her store getting popular thanks to the shopping festival.
  • Chen's parents own a fashion factory in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province. They hoped their daughter would enjoy a leisurely life abroad. Instead, she came back and started her own business as a designer and model.
  • Chen lives in her fashion studio in Shanghai. She has five employees, including three customer service representatives. As the manager, Chen coordinates all the resources and devotes herself to R&D and branding.
  • Cheng Yijun, 28, from Guangdong Province

    Cheng's father, Cheng Minghua, owns a market named "Daying" for fashion wholesalers, which opened in 2008 at the start of global financial crisis. The senior Cheng struggled to maintain his business. Cheng Yijun joined his father after graduating with his bachelor's degree, and they rented their room to e-commerce wholesalers.
  • Cheng Yijun is talking with one of the dealers. Most of the local factories started as manufacturers for foreign brands but shifted to the domestic market because of a declining export market. Cheng is a little frustrated after talking with his father. “There is only one boss in a company. I must listen to his orders,” Cheng said.
  • However, he admires his father’s ability of juggling the details and risk involved in the company. He thinks his father doesn’t owe his success just to opportunities presented to him, but rather to his years of experience.
  • Gu Taiyu, 28, from east China’s Jiangsu Province

    "Chinese customers have strong consumption. I want to create high-quality products for the Chinese people," Gu said.
  • Gu inherited his father-in-law's textile company. He has continued the company’s old business model of exporting the cotton textiles overseas but has also created a brand targeting domestic customers online.
  • Gu makes video calls to his client all around the world every morning. He’s maintained an annual income of 90 million yuan ($14.1 million) even with the slowing trade thanks to his strategy of maintaining the traditional business model as well as creating an e-commerce-friendly one.
  • Gu is ready to go to Alibaba headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, with two boxes of new samples.
  • Hu Jiajia, 28, from Jiangsu Province

    Hu began selling hairy crabs raised by his father via his online shop during his fresh year in the university. His father opposed the idea because he thought it would negatively impact Hu's studies.
  • "He wouldn’t even give me eight crabs from the 30,000 to 40,000 he raised every year," said Hu, when recalling the first deal online. Just one year later, the company's supply of crabs couldn't keep up with the demand . The company made 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) in 2014 with a team of 20 people and more than 40 partnering crab farms. "In the e-commerce industry, only top 10 sellers can earn profits," the younger Hu said. Thanks to his early start, he didn’t miss the chance. Now he is trying to maintain his position.
  • Hu named the store "Farmer Hu," because he regards himself as a farmer in the new generation. He lives in the countryside, but he knows the world through the Internet.
  • Chu Yibin (right), 52, from Yunnan Province

    Chu Yibin gave up his financial career and went back to Yunnan to take over the family farm. His father, Chu Shijian, was once known as "the king of tobacco" in China but shifted the farm to grow oranges. They opened an online store to sell oranges in November 2012.
  • The father and son are holding a launch ceremony for the new product. Chu Yibin is learning how to be farmer while developing new products and cooperating with other farmers. He admires his father’s persistence and looks up to him. "He is my father and my teacher. I want to have his perseverance and sense of responsibility."
  • An aerial view of Chu's farm
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  • 程意军6.jpg
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  • 顾太宇11.jpg
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  • gu.jpg
  • 顾太宇13.jpg
  • 胡佳佳16.jpg
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  • 胡佳佳19.jpg
  • 褚一斌25.jpg
  • 褚一斌27.jpg
  • 褚一斌28.jpg

Photos are all courtesy of NetEase.com.

Edited by Li Fangfang

Chinese looking to snag a deal on November 11, also known as the Single's Day, the largest shopping day in the country, have started a new tradition: Watching a gala sponsored by Alibaba on November 10 and counting down until midnight. In 24 hours on the day, about 91.22 billion yuan ($14.33 billion) was spent online. Sales on Tmall reached 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) just 12 minutes and 28 seconds past midnight this year. It took 38 minutes in 2014 and 6 hours in 2013 for sales to reach that figure.

Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall, China's largest consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer online marketplaces, established the shopping spree, which has become a boon for the founders and e-commerce companies across the country.

The gross merchandise volume and enormous number of transactions show Chinese customers' strong consumption even in the midst of a slowing economy. Some experts say the high demand for e-commerce deals highlights a huge untapped market in China for online shopping and an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to create more online businesses, cashing in on the governments push for "mass entrepreneurship and innovation" through its "Internet Plus" initiative.

"Mass entrepreneurship and innovation can provide fair opportunities for all, especially the young, to improve their lives and achieve better careers through their own efforts," said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang while visiting an exhibition of innovative products in Beijing on October 19.

The Internet Plus strategy could push companies to create better interactions between businesses and clients online, particularly in the traditional manufacturing industry where there has been a historic lack of communication between clients and producers.

Young entrepreneurs, including second-generation owners, from the fashion, textile or agriculture industries could create a new way of operating in business management by connecting these traditional industries and the Internet. This could be an opportunity to improve their own livelihoods, along with the industries and potentially the country as a whole.

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