Get a demo Do I subscribe? News sign-up
Print

US lags China on mobile shopping

News, 11 November 2016

NEW YORK/BEIJING: With Singles' Day in full swing, a new study highlights the similarities – and differences – in how Chinese and American consumers approach online shopping, with both having widely adopted e-commerce but Chinese being twice as likely to buy via mobile.

Research undertaken for IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and IAB China – a 20-minute digital survey with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 online adults in each country – found that 89% of Chinese digital users and 84% of American ones had bought a product or service digitally over the previous 12 months.

Two thirds (67%) of Chinese respondents, however, had made a mobile purchase during that time, while only a third (34%) of those in the US had done so.

Digital purchases accounted for more than half (59%) of all monthly purchases in China and 42% of those in the US, the study found. And of those purchases, 48% were made via mobile in China, almost twice the level reported in the US (26%).

These differences are only to be expected as China's initial adoption of the internet was driven by mobile devices, noted Anna Bager, SVP and General Manager/Mobile and Video, IAB.

But, she added, "we are now seeing tremendous year-over-year upticks in terms of mobile growth in the US. We expect to see that trend extend to US mobile commerce going forward."

There are other areas where digital shopping habits diverge, with Chinese consumers far more likely to buy from sites or apps that highlight discounts (63% China vs. 37% US) or that allow them to compare prices from different sites or apps (51% China vs. 29% US).

Chinese shoppers are also more likely to make a purchase via a messaging app (29% China vs. 16% US), reflecting how the payment functionality of apps like WeChat is driving a mobile revolution.

In China, the IAB research revealed that payment is much more likely to take place via a digital payment service (47% China vs. 15% US on computer; 36% China vs. 17% US on mobile) or a mobile wallet service (21% China vs. 2% U.S.).

While all parties appreciate the convenience of online shopping, reservations remain. American shoppers are primarily concerned about information safety and privacy, but Chinese shoppers fear digital fraud and scams.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff