The quest for quality goods and low prices has Chinese shoppers pumping more of their cash into e-commerce sites selling foreign products, a recent study shows.
Fueling the trend is the growing push among e-tailers to improve their cross-border services, as well as support from the government. This swelling marketplace offers big opportunities for companies in countries like Japan, where domestic consumption is faltering.
The Tsinghua-Nikkei Institute of Media Studies, a joint research outfit between Japan’s Nikkei group and Tsinghua University in China, has been studying this burgeoning market. The following are some of the its findings.
Shopping on the go
China’s cross-border e-commerce market is expected to grow to 1 trillion yuan ($148 billion) in 2018. According to National Bureau of Statistics of China, shoppers there spent 3.88 trillion yuan online in 2015, up 33.3% from the previous year. That figure accounts for 12.9% of all retail sales of durable goods in the country and is equal to nearly half the value of Japan’s retail market.
Of particular interest is the rise in the number of people accessing shopping sites from smartphones and other mobile devices. According to iResearch Consulting Group, 55.5% of China’s online shoppers made purchases from mobile devices in 2015, up 21.7% from the previous year and topping the ratio for people making purchases via computers.
The number of mobile shoppers is expected to continue rising. And their purchases are diversifying, ranging from fresh food to clothing to luxury goods. One upshot of the increased online buying is the growing ubiquity of delivery trucks in Beijing and other big cities.
Turning to the internet to make all sorts of purchases is gradually becoming a part of everyday life in China. And that trend is rapidly fueling the rise of cross-border shopping.
The cross-border trend really took hold in China in 2014. That year, the government introduced measures to encourage businesses to focus on their cross-border shopping site operations, and internet companies launched new services that are easy for Chinese online shoppers to use.
According to the China e-Business Research Center, there were 18 million haitaoshoppers, or people who make purchases on cross-border shopping sites, in China in 2014. The number is projected to almost double to 35.6 million in 2018, inflating the cross-border e-commerce market to some 1 trillion yuan, roughly the same as Japan’s overall e-commerce market in 2015.