How Chinese Consumers Shop Online

on March 20 2012 | in Trends | by | with No Comments

Chinese online shopper

Chinese online retail market is expected to grow from $94.6 billion this year to $159.4 billion in 2015, according to Forrester Research. What’s important to China’s growing online consumers? Here’s a look at some attitudes and behaviors that drive Chinese consumers.

1. Price comes first and foremost

Competition on price is strong in China.

2. Consumers buy products across categories

About 25% of online sales are for apparel, including children’s apparel, and footwear.  A study conducted by the Acquity Group found that across a wide range of product categories, almost every online category experienced double-digit increases in annual spending last year. Nearly half of Chinese online shoppers indicated that they make an online purchase once a week or more and 44% of them buy something online between 1-3 times every month.

3. Consumers mainly use online chat for customer service

Consumers mostly use online chat, with only 20% of consumers using email or as the Chinese call it  “EDM – electronic data mail”, according to Angela Kapp of Shenzen-based Hui She Shang (The Luxury Club).

4. Third party payment systems dominate the market

Credit card usage accounts for 15% of the market in China. Third party payment systems are popular with Alipay leading the market with over 200 million accounts.

5. Shoppers discover new e-tailers through Taobao

According to the Acquity Group, “the majority of Chinese consumers (43%) said they discover new e-tailers through Taobao, which currently holds 70% of internet market share in China. As the Chinese equivalent to eBay, Taobao serves as a centralized marketplace that enables consumers to compare a variety of products in virtually any category.” Consumers also discover new e-tailing sites through online advertising (28%), friends (18%), and social platform BBS (11%).

6. Comparison shopping hugely popular, but more shoppers are going direct to known e-tailers

About 64% of online shoppers said they prefer to comparison shop before making a purchase, but over a third (36%) simply go to the e-tailer they planned to buy from directly. “Since traditional Chinese shopping behavior emphasizes comparison shopping, it’s surprising that more than a third of Chinese shoppers don’t do this when it comes to online shopping,” said Jeff Neville, Vice President of Retail Channel Management at Acquity Group. Since Chinese shoppers are showing their willingness to go direct to reliable e-tailers, it is imperative for companies to build a strong online brand reputation to win customers.

7. The thrill of the hunt for products not available in stores

While price still is a driver in online purchases, China’s shoppers no longer just go for discounted products when they shop online. They are now also interested in finding unique products that are not available in stores, better customer service, convenience, and the thrill of discovering products online.

[acquity group, china internet watch]
image credit: world bank photo collection

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