China’s mobile networks can’t compare to those around the world, reports the Wall Street Journal, but young people are already devoted to shopping on their smartphones. “Showroomers,” the industry term for people who browse in brick-and-mortar stores and then make their purchases online, make up 24 percent of China’s shoppers (compared to 7 percent in the US). Now, Alibaba and Tencent are developing the next wave of mobile shopping technologies for China.
An IBM survey of almost 1,600 Chinese shoppers of various demographics found that 45 percent of showroomers used a mobile device while shopping to either compare prices, read reviews, or learn more about products. For companies that want to influence shoppers while customers are in their stores, this is important.
The survey found that Chinese are more willing to share their personal data with retailers, which will make a big impact as stores ramp up their advertisements to make sure they retain customers: the survey found that 42 percent of shoppers who made purchases in stores were undecided about whether they would buy in a store or online in the future.
Thirty-six percent said that they know whether or not a given store has a mobile app, compared to just 2 percent in the rest of the world. This is good news for those charging ahead and developing pricey apps for China.
Alibaba has invested over $800 million in Weibo and AutoNavi, an online mapping company that experts believe could blend well with Weibo’s social media functions to sell advertising by mapping information about a consumer’s location and then displaying relevant ads.
At the same time, Tencent has been ramping up its ecommerce applications. It also plans to use its WeChat messenger to similarly target shoppers based on their location.
photo credit: cheon fong liew