For 18 out of the 22 categories, China sees the highest percentage of respondents who are willing to buy online compared with the remaining 59 countries and regions covered in a survey conducted by Nielsen.
It also found out that China sees the highest intent for both online-shopping and online-purchase for categories including clothing, cosmetics, personal care, toys and alcohol drinks.
By one account, China has more than 600 million Internet users and an annual E-commerce growth rate of 120% – making it the fastest growing, and soon to be the largest, E-commerce market in the world,
says Patrick Dodd, Managing Director of Nielsen China.
The deep penetration of smartphones and internet, combined with the comprehensive build-up of shipping logistics infrastructure, are quickly transforming the shopping habits and mindsets of Chinese consumers on E-commerce.
Strong Intention for Online Purchase in China
More than half of Chinese respondents intend to make an online purchase within the next six months In 13 out of 22 different product categories surveyed by Nielsen. These categories are primarily durable and entertainment-related categories like clothing (74% vs. 64% in 2011), airline tickets (69% vs. 47% in 2011) and hardcopy books (64% vs. 50% in 2011).
Online purchase intention for categories like E-books (51% vs. 26% in 2011), computer software (38% vs. 11% in 2011), toys/dolls (54% vs. 21% in 2011), doubled or even tripled over the past three years.
Chinese online purchase intentions for baby supplies jumped 25 percentage points to 38% since 2011, and both cosmetic and food & beverage categories increased 14 percentage points to 56% and 57% respectively, and alcoholic drinks rose to 34%.
Strong Growth for Online Sales in China Top-tier Cities
The top-tier cities are seeing stronger growth for online sales in China.
Online sales in food category grew by 37% during period from Nov 2013 to May 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. In contrast, offline channels achieved sales value of about RMB 60 billion (US$9.78 billion) while online sales was RMB 2.5 billion (US$410 million) by May 2014 in tier one cities.
Online Buying Rates Exceed Browsing Rates
Chinese consumers are enthusiastic about both browsing and buying online. Electronics, mobile phones and sporting goods are examples of categories that Chinese consumers often purchase online, while many other consumers around the globe prefer to buy offline.
For more than half of the 22 categories surveyed by Nielsen, online buying rates among Chinese respondents well exceed browsing rates, especially in the categories like clothing (57% browse online vs. 74% buy online), airline tickets (48% browse online vs. 69% buy online), hardcopy books (45% browse online vs. 64% buy online) and even cosmetics (45% browse online vs. 56% buy online).
According to Nielsen, the category that sees the largest surplus of online browsing versus online purchasing is car, motorcycle and accessories. 30% of respondents said they would love to shop online, while only 24% plan to purchase online in the following six months.
Chinese Online Shoppers Spent Much Time Researching Products
Chinese online shoppers like to spend a considerable amount of time researching products before buying (72%), while 86% of online shoppers prefer to read online reviews prior to purchase.
In a separate report by Nielsen on the online-shopping behaviors of Chinese consumers, social media (36%) is one of the Top 3 online information channels used by consumers to help make purchase decisions. Search engines (52%) and category specific websites (42%) were also within the Top 3.
Search engines, category specific websites, and social media are the top 3 channels to help Chinese consumers make purchase decisions according to a separate survey by Nielsen.
In order to increase digital engagement with Chinese online shoppers, retailers need to deliver on multiple shopper needs such as low price, wide selection, and high quality products. Moreover, consumers want to shop on easy-to-navigate websites that offer a number of unique products with plenty of images, accurate descriptions and a history of good e-reputation on social media. These points are a must for brands that hope to convert more Chinese online browsers in to online buyers.
Recommended by Nielsen.
Total transactions of China’s online shopping market, a combination of B2C and C2C markets, reached RMB6,28.76 billion (US$101.58 billion), 10.1% of total retail transactions in China, according to iResearch data.