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Vietnamese finds bargains in Taobao

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A customer points at a screen displaying a website of Alibaba’s Taobao at a rural service centre in Zhejiang province, China. Reuters

KUNMING (Xinhua) – Vietnamese businesswoman Nguyen Lan Anh snapped up quite a lot of goods while Internet shopping on December 12, also known as Double 12, a sales promotion similar to China’s Double 11 online shopping bonanza on November 11.

The 27-year-old said that every Chinese online shopping event is a golden opportunity for her, as she can buy goods at low costs and sell them in Vietnam at a higher price.

Ms Nguyen first came to Hekou, a border county in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, in 2006. After graduating from junior high school one year later, she found a job selling shoes in the county, earning herself 1,500 yuan ($217) per month.

“At the beginning, I could not speak Chinese at all. But my job required me to communicate with customers in Chinese,” said Ms Nguyen, who eventually resorted to teaching herself Chinese.

In 2010, Ms Nguyen returned to Vietnam to become a tour guide, providing services for Chinese tourists with her fluent Chinese.

Ms Nguyen said she would often travel to Hekou to visit her Chinese friends, who taught her how to order goods on her phone.

“I still remember my first shopping experience on Taobao. I bought a bag. It was amazing,” she said, adding that in this moment, online shopping broadened her horizons, as it sparked a business idea in her mind.

Ms Nguyen started her clothing business in 2016 and orders her stock using her smartphone. She is quite familiar with all kinds of Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Taobao, Tmall and

“I used to go to Kunming and Guangzhou to restock, but now I have all the good deals at my fingertips,” said Ms Nguyen.

She said clothes made in China are very popular in Vietnam, and posts new designs to her online shop every now and again, marketing her products to meet the varying needs of Vietnamese buyers.

Ms Nguyen sometimes travels to clothing wholesale markets in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, to establish contacts with new suppliers. “I just need to add their WeChat accounts, and they will invite me to a group chat, where they share new photos of clothes.”

“As for the payment, that has also become very easy. I usually make the payment through WeChat or Alipay,” she said.

Ms Nguyen’s family now live in Lao Cai, northwest Vietnam, which sits just next to Hekou County. Most of Ms Nguyen’s goods are transported from inland Chinese provinces to Lao Cai through Hekou Port. The goods are then repackaged and labeled in Lao Cai before being sent to major Vietnamese cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Borderers in Yunnan and Vietnam have been driving a trade boom since a trial reform in May 2016, which greatly simplified customs clearance procedures.

And since a self-help customs clearance system was launched at the port last year, clearance has become more convenient, saving a lot of time for the cross-border traders.

“A growing number of businesspeople from both China and Vietnam have been doing cross-border e-commerce in recent years. Around 10,000 items swarm into Hekou every day. During peak seasons, such as Double 11, the figure soars to 30,000,” said Zhang Mei, deputy director of the Hekou commerce and industry bureau.

The latest data shows that the value of trade driven by borderers in Yunnan and neighbouring countries like Vietnam and Myanmar in the first 11 months of this year increased to over 22 billion yuan ($3.2 billion), up 22.5 percent year on year.

“I believe more and more borderers will benefit from border trade [in the future],” said Ms Nguyen, who is able to earn more than 200,000 yuan per year.

Born into a poverty-stricken family in a remote mountainous area in Vietnam, Ms Nguyen said she plans to use her income to build a house for her family and provide them with a better life.

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