It goes without saying that China is one of the world’s largest potential e-commerce markets. Total spending is predicted to triple in the next three years, reaching a total of US$420 billion in 2015. How and why Chinese internet users shop online has become a key question for companies wishing to tap the growing number of Chinese e-commerce customers.
A recent report from iResearch (2011-2012 Research Report on the Behaviour of 3C Online Shoppers in China) gives us an insight into the behaviour of at least one of these groups: 3C online shoppers. 3C is a term used in China to describe computing, communication and consumer electronics products. 3C products are a key e-commerce sector, with 61.3% of the total number of online shoppers in China having bought 3C products online.
Below are some key figures from the report:
- 68.1% of 3C online shoppers are male
- 57% of 3C online shoppers are between the ages of 19 and 30
- 3C online shoppers placed an average of 6.32 million orders per month in 2011
In many ways, 3C online shoppers are similar to online shoppers as a whole. The three main factors influencing their decision to buy 3C products online are cheap prices, convenience and product selection. On the other hand, a survey by Acquity Group identified the main reasons Chinese people shop online are product selection, ability to compare prices and convenience.
What are the implications for retailers? The report suggests that they should expand their product selection and pay close attention to who is buying 3C products online and why, in order to create more targeted marketing. It also points out that 76.8% of people access 3C e-commerce sites directly (rather than through a search engine). This implies that strong branding and market visibility are as important as low prices in influencing customers to visit a site.
This last point was driven home recently when Bite China helped one of our key 3C customers, HTC, with online promotion to drive direct sales for the launch of the HTC One S. HTC cooperated with online retailers such as TMall and Coo8, as well as traditional bricks and mortar retailers. However, as a result of successful online promotion through channels such as Sina Weibo, according to their sales report, more visitors made purchases through the official HTC online retail store. This emphasises that web savvy 3C consumers respond well to online promotion, which should be a key take-away for all 3C online retailers.
As ever, for most companies the key to succeeding in the Chinese e-commerce field will be to continue monitoring user behaviour and be flexible in responding to changes.