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The State of Ecommerce in China in 2014

Online shopping in the country is ‘a lifestyle’

August 25, 2014 | Retail & Ecommerce

China's booming ecommerce market is still gaining size and speed, even after several years of eye-popping growth, according to a new eMarketer report, “China Ecommerce: The State of the Market 2014.”

Retail Ecommerce Sales in China, 2013-2018 (billions and % change)

Retail ecommerce sales will grow more than 60% this year, with healthy gains projected through 2018. The much anticipated initial public offering of ecommerce giant Alibaba has focused global attention on the Chinese market, but there are a wide variety of players building substantial businesses, including a growing group of specialty and niche retailers.

Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sales have played a major role in the developing market, but many observers expect business-to-consumer (B2C) channels to grow faster and ultimately surpass the C2C market.

Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma said in a recent address to Credit Suisse investors that in other countries ecommerce is a way to shop, but in China it is a “lifestyle.”

Digital Buyers in China Who Prefer Ecommerce to Traditional Retail, June 2014 (% of total)

Indeed, a June 2014 survey by GroupM found that nearly three-quarters of digital buyers said they preferred shopping online to shopping in traditional retail outlets.

China's digital buyers are unusual in that they are more likely to buy clothing and accessories online than any other type of product.

More than three-quarters of respondents in the China Internet Network Information Center’s (CNNIC’s) "2013 China Online Shopping Market" report said they had bought apparel online. This overwhelming preference for buying clothes online is a reflection of Taobao and Tmall's dominance of the ecommerce marketplace, as well as the appetite of the consumer in China for social commerce, to which fashion is particularly well suited. Consumer packaged goods and consumer electronics are also very popular, with just under half of respondents having bought these products online, with the proportion falling to around a third for bags and personal care and beauty products.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “China Ecommerce: The State of the Market 2014.”

This report answers these key questions:

  • How big is ecommerce in China and how much will it grow over the next several years?
  • What are the areas of hottest growth, both in terms of regions and product types?
  • How are the major players positioning themselves to compete?

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