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This is a Retail innovation from The 70 Best Trend-Driven Innovations of 2019.

Taobao Live, the livestreaming section of Alibaba’s C2C marketplace, is cultivating 1,000 farmers from 100 rural counties to become livestream hosts. Starting April 2019, this initiative will boost local businesses by empowering farmers to manage their own livestream channels, sell produce, and earn over RMB 10,000 (USD 1,490) monthly. In 2018, the platform hosted more than 150,000 agriculture-related shows, which attracted over 400 million viewers.

It wasn’t that long ago when the world was enamored with Pearl Bro, the Chinese entrepreneur who made USD 4.4 million livestreaming the harvesting of mussels. This industry continues to boom (generating USD 4.4 billion in 2018) and within that boom are two important lessons:

Everyone has a story to tell. Yes, the first breed of breakout livestream hosts were young, beautiful and charismatic influencers. But it quickly became a platform where all kinds of people (from those working in factory parks, to the elderly, to rural farmers) could reach the world with their experiences. Are there overlooked groups you can identify and support to help them share their story? You don’t need Taobao’s budget either, all it takes is a budget smartphone and a decent data plan.

The best of both worlds. Taobao Live is one of the pioneers of SHOPSTREAMING, a trend we first wrote in 2017. On the platform, consumers browse for and purchase products via livestreamed shows - usually featuring influencers trying on products, reviewing them, and answering questions. As a result, millions of viewers go on the platform to be entertained, interact with others, and shop while they’re at it. The result? A model of e-commerce that offers, not just transactional convenience, but also the fun, human experience of brick-and-mortar settings. Even if your business is not in retail, ask yourself: how can we deliver the best of online (convenience, speed, accessibility) and offline (the human touch and the fun!) in our customer experience?

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