E-commerce boom continues in China

Updated: 2010-07-17 15:53
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BEIJING - For Wen Zhenhua, the biggest success of her career was the bulk sale of condoms on, a newly-opened and flourishing group-buying website.

Some 50,000 international brand condoms sold out within hours of going on sale, and to Wen's delight, many Chinese Internet users discussed the sales as such trade in condoms is rare in China.

"As the first among Chinese group-buying websites to sell condoms, we were pleased with the consumer response," said Wen, marketing manager at Meituan.

The condoms were sold for a price of one yuan (15 cents) each, down from the market price of 3 yuan each.

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Meituan has more than 200,000 registered users only four months since it was established. It is now one of the leading Chinese group-buying websites.

Wen said she is not surprised about the rapid increase in registered users -- she is "of course very happy about it" -- given that Chinese e-commerce is developing at a dazzling speed.

Nearly 34 million Chinese people joined the online shopping army in the first six months the year, bringing the total number to 142 million.

These figures mean one out of every three Chinese Internet users, or one out of 10 Chinese people, shops online, according to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released Thursday.

"The rise of group-buying websites showcases the regional development of e-commerce," the report says.

Online retail sales increased 117 percent annually between 2007 and 2009, and they are expected to amount to 450 billion yuan ($66.45 billion) this year, according to the research center of Alibaba Group, which runs the global e-commerce site

"The Internet in China is moving from a platform for information and opinion to being a network with diverse applications and mass participation," said Hu Yanping, general manager at Data Center of China Internet, an independent Internet market monitoring agency.

Hu says Chinese Internet users' online consumption will continue to grow rapidly.

Nowadays, Chinese people not only buy articles of everyday use like clothes and snacks on the Internet, they also buy cameras and laptops and luxury goods like diamonds. Reports say some automakers plan to sell vehicles online.

For many people, online shopping means a change of lifestyle and convenience with a few mouse clicks.

Tsinghua University student Liu Dun, 21, bought a ticket to a Beijing golf tournament for just 20 yuan -- instead of the usual 1,000 yuan -- on group-buying website

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