WELLINGTON: Educated, middle-class women are the future of online shopping in China new research has claimed.

A survey of Chinese internet consumers by New Zealand's Lincoln University found that well-educated employees were more likely to shop online than any other group, possibly a result of their computer literacy and ready access to internet technology.

And female consumers were more likely to shop online than their male counterparts, a trend the researchers said was becoming increasingly pronounced.

They also noted that the online shopping behaviour of friends and family was a major influence on e-shoppers, but especially on women.

Lincoln University's senior lecturer in marketing Michael Clemes said that with China's population spending around 1bn hours online each day, it was important to understand the decision-making process and behaviour of on-line shoppers.

"What's particularly interesting about China, however, is not only how little is known about e-shopping behaviours, but how few Chinese consumers relative to the country's population actually use the internet for their purchases," he added.

The study highlighted service and security as key factors influencing Chinese consumers decision to shop on line, the New Zealand Herald reported

"With the right kind of research, the e-shopping experience can be dramatically improved, thereby going some way to retaining current customers and sourcing new ones," Clemes said.

The researchers suggested that marketers consider providing computer training courses to prospective customers or increasing the provision of public computers, and to consider providing on-line forums and chat rooms for female consumers to share their experiences.

High-income Chinese consumers were found to be much less inclined to shop online, possibly, said the researchers, because they preferred to physically examine the more upmarket products they were buying and to take advantage of support services offered in a store.

Data sourced from New Zealand Herald; additional content by Warc staff