242 million reasons to sell to China online

New data released today shows that China expects 8 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of this year. With this ongoing strong growth comes huge opportunity for UK businesses. 

Indeed, more than 242 million Chinese consumers now shop online regularly, according to new data from Chinese ecommerce experts Alibaba.com.

Indeed, the Chinese population is increasingly spending money online. In 2013, Chinese consumers are expected to spend £177bn shopping online, surpassing all other countries including the UK, US and Western Europe.

British entrepreneurs mustn’t underestimate the size of the Chinese market; it is truly staggering. 

“It’s well known that the spending power of China’s rising middle class is changing the global retail landscape,” says James Hardy, head of Europe at Alibaba.com.

“Less understood is the enthusiasm that Chinese consumers have for shopping on the internet. More than 242 million Chinese shop on the internet – that’s six times the number in the UK.”

Still unconvinced? Here are the numbers that back it up:

Portrait of China’s online shoppers

  • 44% check social media to make buying decisions
  • 60% have income less than £213 a month
  • £703 – average spending per online shopper in 2012. Average UK person spends £1,083
  • 12% of online purchases are made by mobile phone
  • Online shoppers – 48% female, 52% male
  • 9 out of 10 pay using e-payment services (but half also pay cash on delivery)
  • 61% are aged 18-30
  • 22% make more than 40 online purchases a year

Why the Chinese e-shop

  • 52% say price is cheaper than physical stores
  • 19% buy due to convenience
  • 16% say large variety of products
  • 6% say there is more information to online to help choose products
  • 6% can buy products online that are unavailable in stores

And why they don’t

  • 66% worried about product quality
  • 43% worried about e-tailer’s credibility
  • 25% say delivery is too slow
  • 23% say poor customer service
  • 20% say paying is a hassle

Where they e-shop: top Chinese B2C websites by market share

  • 54% Tmall
  • 17% 360Buy
  • 15% Others
  • 3% Sunning
  • 3% Joyo Amazon
  • 2% VANCL
  • 2% Dangdang

What they buy

  • 68% clothing and accessories
  • 39% household goods
  • 39% digital goods
  • 37% consumer electronics
  • 33% books and audio
  • 30% cosmetics and beauty

How China compares to other countries, in terms of total retail e-commerce sales

2012

  • US – $209bn
  • China – $194bn
  • UK – $113bn
  • Germany – $42bn
  • France – $32bn
2013

  • China – $265bn
  • US – $230bn
  • UK – $123.4bn
  • Germany – $46.3bn
  • France – $35.5bn
2014

  • China – $348bn
  • US – $250bn
  • UK – $134.1bn
  • Germany – $49.9bn
  • France – $38.7bn
2015

  • China – $445bn
  • US – $270bn
  • UK – $143.6bn
  • Germany – $53.5bn
  • France – $41.8bn
If you are interested in finding out more about doing business in China, read these articles – packed with top tips and information for British entrepreneurs.

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