Chinese lead way in e-shopping

10 April 2014
BEIJING: Chinese consumers are three times more likely to shop online every week than the global average and do so using a mobile, new research has revealed.

For its Achieving Total Retail report, consulting firm PwC surveyed 15,000 online shoppers around the world in 15 countries and regions, including 900 in China. It found that 60% of Chinese consumers claimed to shop online on a weekly basis compared to 21% globally, Xinhua reported.

In addition, some 25% said they shopped with a mobile phone, almost three times more than the global average of 9%.

Online shopping has become almost an essential part of daily life, said Kevin Wang, a retail specialist at PwC. "Customers use many devices, and they need an enhanced and consistent experience across all their devices," he told China News. "Customer information must 'travel' with each device and still be secure."

But the report noted that retailers' efforts to build an omnichannel retail experience were lagging behind consumers' demands for convenient access to goods, in-store stock checking, consistent online and offline promotions, and easy return of purchased goods.

"China is more advanced in its use of mobiles in the shopping experience than arguably anywhere else in the world, yet few retailers are bringing a digital experience to the physical store," said Colin Light, PwC's digital consulting leader for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

"It is critical to bring the benefit of e-commerce, online-to-offline business in a bricks-and-mortar environment," he added.

The urgent need for physical retailers to address this was evident in the report's findings that consumers were increasingly "showrooming", using stores to view products rather than buy them.

One way forward, suggested PwC, was to build on the desire of consumers for personalisation based on past purchases. Some retailers were already working on this aspect through promotions such as daily deals.

Nor was there any shortage of consumers wanting to communicate. Fully 90% of the Chinese sample said they gave feedback, whether positive or negative, about their experiences with a product or brand on social media.

This compared with a global average of 55% and businesses would need to reconsider their investments in social media if they wanted to enhance consumer engagement, said PwC.

Data sourced from Xinhua, China News; additional content by Warc staff
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