Online retailers are racing to market their products to China’s 1.1 billion mobile phone subscribers.
Many of the merchants who appear on Internet Retailer’s newly released China 500 list of top-ranking e-retailers are making a play for this considerable market.
The mobile market increased from $7.8 billion in 2012 to $15.7 billion in 2013, a 101.3-percent increase. Growth has been exponential over the past few years; in 2010, the market value was just $400 million. The US market, which is larger, has shown much slower growth, increasing by 64 percent, from $20.9 billion to $34.2 billion between 2012 and 2013.
The boom is driving companies like Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. to step up their game when it comes to mobile accessibility. Mobile devices accounted for 15 percent of the company’s sales in 2013, or $247.9 million. According to Senior Vice President Mu Guixian, mobile sales are expected to rise to 50 percent by the end of 2014.
Retailers are approaching m-commerce from several different angles and are opportunistic. Online merchant Dangdang.com, for instance, has made shopping easier for mobile users by “updating its mobile site with new features such as faster search and updated login screens that enable registered users to quickly access personal information such as their shopping history.” Wuxi Maimaibao Information Technology Co. Ltd. targets low-income rural consumers and urban migrant workers, who often don’t own a personal computer but usually have some kind of mobile device. As such, Maimaibo’s website is designed specifically for mobile devices, and receives more than 8 million unique visitors a day.
“That’s [referring to Wuxi] not a business model that’s common in other parts of the world, but reflects China’s uniqueness, as well as the need for e-retailers to adapt to a society undergoing profound change,” said Kelland Willis, an e-commerce and China analyst with Forrester Research.
According to Willis, m-commerce may become the primary way that Chinese consumers shop on the Internet.
“The uptake of mobile commerce will push China’s e-commerce market to new heights,” Willis said.
image credit: jason howie