Ecommerce in China – Online consumer on the Rise

Ever since the famous slogan “To get rich is glorious” appeared three decades ago, China’s consumer market has evolved at a phenomenal pace. Today China is considered the #1 market for many product categories including computers and automotive. Standard & Poor expects China to overtake the US and claim the top slot as the world’s largest consumer market in the next five years.

China’s consumer market is maturing in ways more than one. China used to be the heaven of counterfeit goods. However with rising incomes, purchase decisions are no longer just price driven. Showing-off one’s latest purchase on social networking sites such as WeChat, Weibo etc. is a fad in China today. As a result, consumers in China prefer to purchase original and quality goods, sometimes even luxury goods – many of these purchases are online and e-retailers have to prove the authenticity of goods that they sell and brands need to beware of any negative user comments that could go viral.

The appetite of Chinese shoppers does not confine itself within the country’s border. Due to value added tax and distribution efficiency issues, Chinese consumers tend to pay higher prices for imported items. Even for “Made-In-China” products like the iPhone, the prices tend to be higher in China than elsewhere in the world! As a result, most Chinese consumers explore the options of purchasing luxury items overseas which turns out to be more economical and global retailers like Net A Porter cater to this need by offering a simplified Chinese user interface and “Ship to China” options.


However, the ecommerce scenario was not always so prevalent in China. Unlike the US where most of the top e-retailers (other than Amazon and eBay) are traditional retail stores that have gone online, China did not have a particularly strong supply chain or retailer industry when e-commerce first emerged. The emerging online retail powerhouses in China such as TMALL (part of Alibaba Group) and JD do not have any offline legacy. But the online purchase potential is so humongous in China that e-retailers have evolved fast and are at par with any of the world’s top e-retailers. For example, you can find virtually unlimited selection of products from Taobao’s partnered merchants, who will diligently answer your chat inquiry 24×7. They are further refining their own logistics infrastructure and China’s retailer industry is predicted to emerge as highly online driven than any other developed country in the world.


With many more such interesting developments, the new force of Chinese consumers is set to change the global economy in the years to come. Do watch this space for more interesting updates on the fast evolving and ever changing consumer market in China.

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