Chinese e-shoppers shun stores

9 October 2014

HONG KONG: Around the world most online shoppers continue to visit physical stores except in China, where a new study reveals that the majority no longer do so.

Activation agency Geometry Global conducted research among more than 9,000 people in 12 countries, including China, India and Japan, for its Connected Shopper study, which examines the usage, motivations and relevance of the internet to shoppers throughout the purchase decision journey.

It found that globally two thirds of shoppers (66%) said they also went to bricks-and-mortar outlets, but this was reversed in China where 61% said they did not do so.

While China was unique in this trend the report said that across Asia shoppers were online more often and making more purchases there than those in developed western markets.

Chinese respondents, for example, spent an average of 4.3 hours online every day compared to the global average of just less than 4 hours.

And they were far more active in making online purchases, averaging 5.9 per month compared to the global figure of 3.3.

Just over half of all respondents agreed that it was essential to have internet access all the time, everywhere, but this leapt to 68% in India and 70% in China, an indication of how the digital world has taken hold in these countries.

That enthusiasm extends to their use in-store. China has a very high penetration of smartphones among internet users (86%), some 30 points higher than India (55%), but in both countries owners of mobile devices were very likely to use them when visiting stores – at 94% in China and 87% in India. By comparison such usage stood at 31% in the UK and 35% in the US.

Chinese consumers were also more likely to visit official brand sites for product information than those in other markets, and particularly when compared to mature markets like the USA, UK and France.

John Goodman, CEO Geometry Global, Asia Pacific, observed that path to purchase was becoming increasingly complex. "The connected shopper wants access to all shopping channels, but not all at once," he said. "Only the right channel at the most convenient time for them."

Data sourced from Geometry Global; additional content by Warc staff