SHANGHAI: Major e-commerce websites in China, such as those operated by retail giant Alibaba, no longer exist just for sales but are becoming media channels in their own right, a new mobile survey has concluded.

Based on responses from 1,500 smartphone owners in several Chinese cities, the "China's Herculean E-Commerce Market" report was conducted by research firm Decision Fuel on behalf of GroupM China, WPP's consolidated media investment management operation.

It found two-thirds of Chinese consumers prefer e-commerce over traditional shopping because of perceived greater convenience and better quality and service standards.

Chinese consumers also believe online retail comes with the advantage of avoiding poor air quality and pollution in major cities, parking unavailability, poor service and the risk of counterfeit goods.

"We cannot overemphasise the importance of online shopping for brands in China," said Tony Chen, chief digital officer at GroupM China, who added that e-commerce companies could gain from new opportunities to communicate with their customers.

"The top e-commerce sites are no longer mere sales channels, but media in their own right, with hundreds of millions of visitors ripe for brand communication," he asserted.

"Over the next two decades, e-commerce will likely become the make-or-break platform for brand success in China. So it's important for brands to begin laying the groundwork this year."

Other findings in what GroupM China acknowledged was a partly "tongue-in-cheek" survey included half of respondents reporting that they miss out on sleep in order to shop late.

More than a fifth also believe their shopping "addiction" is affecting family harmony, half shop during working hours and nearly a quarter do so when in the bathroom.

Data soured from GroupM; additional content by Warc staff