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eCommerce in China: Facts, Statistics and Insight

Did you know that China is shortly set to become the world’s #1 when it comes to eCommerce?

The online market in the world’s most populous country has grown exponentially in the last few years, some five times as fast as in the US, and experts expect it to be officially more lucrative when industry statistics are released this year.

Here are some other notable statistics about eCommerce in China:


Chinese shoppers pay attention to reviews.

It’s important to facilitate user reviews in the West, but in the East it’s even more essential. Perhaps owing to a healthy scepticism of state information, two thirds of online shoppers post and pay

attention to individual reviews – while only 40% of US shoppers do.


Tastemakers matter

Again, because the state carries very little authority when it comes to recommending quality, independent tastemakers are very influential. Chinese sisters Miumiu and Viviandan started utilising their blog and social media accounts to document and evaluate their fashion purchases a decade ago and are now extremely authoritative – with the power to make or break new brands.


The Chinese love high-end items

People in China account for 29% of all luxury goods sold around the world. Harrods in London has reported that its sales to China are its largest foreign export and have risen 50% since 2009, while there are more Apple stores in Shanghai than San Francisco.


China’s big sites are really big

Alibaba, the site that incorporates the third-party Ebay-esque Taobao and the shopping site Tmall accounts for more than 50% of all parcels delivered in China. Taobao and Tmall sold around $163b of stock in 2012 – more than Amazon and eBay combined.


The Chinese buy abroad

Unlike the Japanese, who massively prefer local brands, a combination of high import taxes, mixed quality local goods and ever available counterfeit goods mean that Chinese shoppers are highly likely to buy from abroad. Many buy offline in Hong Kong or Jeju Island in South Korea but the figure buying online from overseas is set to rise.


Mobile is huge

China is the world’s biggest smartphone market and eCommerce is seeing that in full effect. Alibaba said that 21% of its orders were placed using mobile devices, a huge jump of 16% in one year.


The Chinese love to try new brands

Perhaps because the Chinese market has grown so quickly, shoppers in China are very keen on new brands. Research by Swarovski says that three-quarters of Chinese shoppers are eager to try new brands and a study by Bain showed that the top five brands in ten different industries lost between 30 and 60% of customers between 2011 and 2012.


What’s more, brand switching is rife. The business expert Mckinsey says that brand switching, for instance between Coca Cola and Pepsi, is far higher than in most other countries.


Tourism abroad is set to skyrocket

The investment banking company CLSA says that the current amount of Chinese tourists going abroad will more than double to 200m by 2020 – presenting potentially huge business for ambitious tourist havens in the West and elsewhere.



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