CHINA - Taobao, the customer-to-customer online shopping bazaar founded by former English teacher Jack Ma, marks its 10th anniversary in May 2013. It recorded 1 trillion yuan (S$1,999 billion) in transaction in 2012.
With its success, a substantial number of new, multifarious or even bizarre jobs have also been created in the virtual world in the past decade.
In April, Alibaba Group, the owner and operator of Taobao and its business-to-customer counterpart, Tmall, released a report about the nearly 200,000 so-called "e-commerce service providers" that have supported and relied on the business.
They included the most lucrative modeling work that can make as much as 50,000 yuan a day, the most fundamental customer service providers, and the illegal, but rampant malicious critics who make a profit by posting negative comments on the store page so that they can be "financially compensated".
Aside from these, there are the other common jobs like online designers, photographers, and professional store managers.
Below are some of the novel ones:
• Online bargainers
The skill of bargaining may be a must-have survival skill in China. But there is a world of difference between having it and mastering it, especially in the more brutal world of Internet, where cheating and swindling are more frequent.
With their wide knowledge of all types of commodities and sharp tongues, online bargainers make a profit from the price gap they manage to negotiate from the original price.
Since the commission they receive is usually low, between one and 10 per cent of the price gap created, most of the online bargainers are part-timers who have other day jobs.
Rather than making money, they claim the motivation comes from a successful bargain, as bargaining skill, unlike other hobbies, has few playgrounds.
"You have to be very familiar with the goods and the profit margin, so as to ask for a reasonably low price," Gong Jiawen told the Shanghai Morning Post.
A real estate consultant by day, Gong has opened a bargaining store on Taobao that boasts more than 300 monthly deals. She claims that now she has a very stable clientele who would come to her whenever they want to buy something online.
• Online store decorators
Without a piece of tile or a paintbrush, online store decorators manage to turn an almost blank store into an e-commerce magnet that customers find irresistible.
Statistics from Taobao showed that there are about 800,000 online store decorators who have designed more than 1.7 million stores in the past decade. Some of the decorators were once online storeowners, who started with decorating their own stores before turning professional.
As competition on Taobao becomes more intense with more big and small players, the price asked by an online store decorator has been rising with their ever-greater demand. A tailor-made page, for example, can cost as high as several thousand yuan.