China’s ecommerce boom accelerates

As consumers in China become more comfortable buying goods online, the number of online buyers on the mainland will rise to nearly 220 million this year.

That is substantially more than the US total of approximately 150 million, according to research company eMarketer’s estimates.

It is forecast that by 2016, 423.4 million people in China ages 14 and older will make an online purchase at least annually.

Last year, business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales in China, including retail ecommerce and travel spending, reached US$55.37 billion, up 103.7 per cent over 2010. Such sales are expected to rise another 94.1 per cent this year, to nearly US$107.5 billion.

Already the second-largest B2C ecommerce market in Asia-Pacific in terms of sales behind Japan, China is the fourth-largest market in the world as ranked by B2C ecommerce sales. The country’s ecommerce sales are expected to surpass those of Japan and grab the global second-place slot from the UK in 2013.

Still, there are plenty of nuances to the ecommerce market in China. Westerners mostly shop online for convenience, but in China the kick for the click is driven much more by availability and value. Shopping online means access to brands and goods otherwise not available beyond second-tier cities.

And foreign internet brands face hurdles entering China. The country’s ecommerce market, like its search, social networking, instant messaging and gaming sectors, is currently dominated by a handful of local giants.

And while online shopping certainly is on the rise, China still faces rampant piracy and counterfeiting problems. Other challenges include ruthless competition and price wars, marketing and supply-chain costs, and uncertain taxation policies.



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