More than 87 million Chinese bought goods online this year, a huge 38.9% increase from last year, says the Beijing Times, citing a report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
In the first half of the year, 119.5 billion yuan was spent, mostly on websites like Taobao.com, and CNNIC reckons 250 billion yuan ($36.6 billion) will be spent in total.
Apparently, most shoppers are students or office workers, aged between 18 and 30, with a monthly income of 1,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan. More women use the web for shopping than men, and clothing and household items are the most popular goods.
I’m not surprised by the growth figures – it’s time-consuming and bothersome to trawl around the mom-and-pop stores finding everything. More often than not, shoppers end up settling for some alternative product because they can’t find what they want in stock.
Through websites like Taobao, shoppers can interact with the retailers and have everything delivered.
The increase also goes hand in hand with the rise in credit card use, and the way in which banks have extended huge numbers of credit cards this year.
I suspect, if anything, the growth will become even more explosive. The demographic that is online shopping at the moment are classic early adopters – students and professionals under 30.
As credit card use becomes more widespread, older people will start shopping online too. The Ministry of Commerce has a target that 5% of goods should be bought online. I think China will easily outstrip that.