China set to take B2C lead

China is now ranked as having the world’s greatest B2C e-commerce market potential.

Researcher said there will be more than 500 million online shoppers in China by 2017.

It says the world’s most populous country is already the second largest B2C e-commerce market worldwide and the fastest growing. Its potential for further growth of online retail comes from the growing Internet and online shopper penetration, as well as increasing consumption per shopper.

In 2013, B2C e-commerce sales in China grew by over 60 per cent year-on-year. In 2014, sales are forecasted to top 100 billion euros, with continued rapid growth expected for several years.

The B2C e-commerce market in China is dominated by online marketplaces, while the direct-to-consumer segment is significantly smaller.

Alibaba’s B2C marketplace Tmall was the largest player in 2013, controlling almost half of the market, followed by and Tencent.

Foreign merchants employ various strategies to penetrate the booming market, including launching shops on popular online marketplaces, the strategy chosen by brands such as Gap, Esprit, Uniqlo, and Levi’s, while Walmart has chosen to acquire an existing online store and Amazon launched its own online shop through new investment.

Puma and Apple are examples of merchants that are trying a dual approach, offering one product range through a Chinese marketplace and a different range through their own online shops.