Ecommerce growing in China

16 November 2011

BEIJING: Internet users in China are becoming increasingly engaged with ecommerce, new figures show.

Acquity Group, the digital services provider, polled over 1,000 online shoppers in 150 cities, and found 45% bought something via the web at least weekly, and 44% did so between once and three times a month.

More broadly, 25% of interviewees spent less than RMB1,000 in this way during the last year, with 27% logging RMB1,000–3,000 in expenditure, and 19% falling in the RMB3,000-5,000 range.

Another 14% of those polled invested between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan, leaving 15% splashing out over RMB10,000 yuan on ecommerce.

Over 85% of respondents agreed price was the main reason for making purchases using this route, while 75% pointed to convenience and the wide choice of items available.

Groceries, apparel, books, music and electronics are among the leading categories in terms of overall activity, with Alipay, the electronics transactions service run by Alibaba, the most popular tool to complete acquisitions.

When it came to discovering online retailers, 72.7% of contributors had done so through Taobao, a popular service similar to eBay, and also owned by Alibaba. Internet advertising scored 27.5% here, ahead of recommendations from friends on 18.2%.

Bulletin boards logged 18.2%, while a search on Baidu recorded 7.8%, family referrals secured 3.4%, social networks yielded 3.1%, TV ads were cited by 2.9% of the panel and a Google search logged 2.3%.

While on the path to purchase, 64% of respondents visited multiple potential vendors before buying something, whereas 36% went directly to the site of their preferred retailer.

Reputation was the primary reason for choosing an ecommerce provider, ahead of price and perceived quality. Product assortment, convenience, the ease of returning goods and recommendations came next on this list.

Elsewhere, 59% of participants expressed concerns about claiming refunds for unsuitable items, and many shoppers also expressed concerns about making electronics payments or the threat of receiving counterfeit goods.

Jeff Neville, Acquity's vice president, retail channel management, argued these trends were not unusual in the global context. "In some ways it's evolving faster than in the US," he said. "In some respects it's where we were in 2002."

Data sourced from Acquity Group; additional content by Warc staff