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Online shopping booms in China

Updated: 2010-01-09 15:40
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Thanks to online shoppers like Shi Fang and Yang Fei, Taobao is expected to achieve 200 billion yuan in transaction volume in 2009. The company predicts that the figure will reach 400 billion yuan next year.

"On-line shopping provides a convenient and accessible platform for customers who want to shop for variety. It is especially viable given the current economic downtown," said Prof. Lu Benfu, an expert on Internet economy at the School of Management, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China's growing Internet economy has demonstrated "not only sufficient confidence to withstand the financial crisis, but also promised substantial profits," Lu added.

It is no wonder then that individuals like Shi Fang have taken their virtual shops on as jobs to last.

When Rong Rong opened a Taobao shop in 2004, she did all the packing and delivery herself. Now having her own warehouse packed with four shelves of hair products while employing three assistants, Rong Rong has earned herself a 720, 000-yuan  flat and a Honda car that's worth 200, 000 yuan.

"On the busiest day, more than 100 parcels need to be delivered. To date, over 50,000 customers have bought goods from my shop. The transaction volume grows 50 percent each year with a 10-percent increase in profit," said Rong, 37, who used to own a hair salon.

She sold her hair salon last year and turned her part-time Taobao shop into a full-time job after profits from the shop have tripled that from her hair salon.

"Prices for my products are not the lowest, but I sell the most in the hair product category. The key is to understand consumer behavior if you want to cash in on the website. Quality service and professional advice to customers in choosing products that suit their hair condition are also important," she said while arranging her stuff in packing.

"I have to work from 10am till midnight. My only entertainment is walking my dog for half an hour after lunch. But I will continue the business. Nothing can beat the pleasure in seeing your own business grow from scratch," said Rong, adding that under her influence, her father has joined online shopping in his 60s.

The growing purchasing power of China's online shoppers has been noted by traditional brands from home and abroad.

China's biggest Xinhua Book Store has an outlet on Taobao; Japan's casual wear seller UNIQLO also opened a shop in April; China Eastern, an airline company that operates from Shanghai, will soon set up an online ticket store on

"The strategy next year for Taobao is to facilitate the business to consumer platform. The website will help more companies sell products online," said Ma Yun, CEO of Alibaba Group.

To fight fake products sold on its website, the company has injected 100 million yuan in an ad hoc campaign. Hundreds of shops selling fake stuff have been closed while those selling fake products are put on a blacklist.

Related readings:
Online shopping booms in China Hunan TV, set to form alliance
Online shopping booms in China Transactions up at Taobao stores
Online shopping booms in China Alibaba, Taobao join hands to boost market share
Online shopping booms in China Taobao's turnover almost doubles in H1

"A sound Internet economy relies on companies' social responsibility in e-commerce. Credibility, security and services are the driving force for dot-com companies to grow," said Jiang Qiping, secretary-general at the Information Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

As Shi Fang was busy surfing online for Chinese New Year gifts and Rong Rong promoting her online Chinese New Year sale, Ma Yun is quite confident for the prospect of China's e-commerce.

"Among the two billion parcels delivered across China this year, 1.2 billion are goods from Taobao. We're planning to provide online shopping experiences for a billion people around the globe, " said Ma, who believes that Taobao won't be replaced in ten years time.

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