China Ecommerce Market Summary
China is an innovative e-commerce market that is big and poised to get bigger
• China is arguably the world leader in e-commerce, boasting both huge sales volumes and high levels of innovation, particularly in mobile and social commerce.
• Some 64 percent of the Chinese population have shopped online,1 but this still leaves huge growth potential via the remaining one-third of citizens who are yet to make their first purchase.
• China eCommerce Market is based around ‘super-apps’, which allow users to socialize, shop, bank and pay for products within a single ecosystem. WeChat and Alipay dominate.
China eCommerce Market – China’s rising middle-class fuels strong sales growth prediction
China is home to a US $1.9 trillion business to consumer e-commerce market, the largest in the world. E-commerce accounts for 30 percent of total retail, and users spend an average of US $2,058 online each year – roughly half the amount citizens of
fellow e-commerce giants the U.S. and UK spend. Double-digit growth is projected to 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6 percent, one of the higher rates in our report. This growth is underpinned by a rising middle class, which is projected to reach 550 million people by 2022, a figure one and a half times the size of the entire U.S. population.
“China is a worldleading e-commerce market that boasts huge sales volumes, high innovation and a vibrant social and mobile commerce environment.”
The Chinese clock up hours on smartphones every day, making for a mobile-first shopping model
Citizens spend an estimated average of three hours and six minutes a day on their smartphones, a figure that is expected to rise to just under three and a half hours in 2022. It should therefore come as no surprise that China is a nation that prefers to shop via smartphone, with 64 percent of e-commerce completed on a mobile device.
Of these transactions, 65 percent are carried out on an app,11 making optimization for app-based e-commerce essential for incoming merchants. Social super-apps like WeChat, Pinduoduo and Douyin have made live streaming a key feature of Chinese
e-commerce, and its use is particularly dominant in the lucrative beauty market.
“Cross-border merchants need to remain aware of China’s unique import and tax rules”
Digital wallets rule in China, blending payments technology with tradition
Digital wallets are the primary e-commerce payment method in China, accounting for 59 percent of all completed transactions.13 This high uptake is supported by super-apps and sites integrating their own digital wallet payment systems – for example, WeChat Pay within WeChat, and Alipay within Alibaba, which allow for one-click e-commerce payments. Traditional elements of Chinese culture, such as red envelope money gifting, have been incorporated into these payment apps. Card is the second-most popular payment option, with a 21 percent market share, followed by bank transfers in third at 15 percent. Debit cards are preferred over credit.
Cross-border e-commerce makes up one in five sales made by Chinese consumers
Despite the huge amount of choice, variety and innovation in China’s domestic e-commerce market, cross-border shopping is still an important feature of the country, with 39 percent of online shoppers having made a purchase from abroad. Cross-border e-commerce accounts for 13.5 percent of total e-commerce, with Japan (24 percent), the Australia (14 percent) and the U.S. (12 percent) the most popular overseas destinations to shop from.
China has a ‘positive list’ for approved e-commerce product categories that can be imported into the country with minimal customs and compliance requirements, and a preferential tax rate of 9.1 percent. To qualify, these items must be shipped to a bonded warehouse before they are sent on to the buyer.
China sets the pace for e-commerce trends and is years ahead of other nations
Group buying is on the rise in China, whereby shoppers access significant discounts and flash sales if they buy in groups.
The online ‘re-commerce’, or second-hand shopping market reached RMB 1 billion (US $156.3 million) in 2020. Re-commerce is set to overtake fast fashion by 2028. This is part of a wider cultural shift towards sustainability and acceptance of pre-owned goods. Chinese influencers such as Austin Li and Viya are still hugely important, but ‘key opinion consumers’
are fast emerging as rivals. Unlike influencers, key opinion consumers do not promote products for brands, or work in social media full-time. They instead occasionally give talks and reviews on items they have personally bought. They are viewed as everyday people giving honest reviews, with their opinions given more weight as a result.
@Report by JPMorgan