Business / Industries

Dividing line between old, new retail becoming blurred

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-04 08:58

Social media outlets continue to increase influence on sales

Xiong Ling buys fresh fruit everyday from an online seller and has it delivered at home after work. "They deliver it right to my door," she said, "fresh and delicious".

It is a great service that Xiong has been recommending to her friends, too, via social media-a retailing trend that is becoming the norm for many online shoppers in China.

Like millions of others, 28-year-old Xiong spends hours each day shopping online, buying not only her favorite food but also the latest fashions. She then talks about them with her friends and in some cases she interacts with the social media sites of the retailers concerned.

She said her favorite sites are Lane Crawford and Net-A-Porter, but she also visits the stores concerned-just to make sure that what she sees online is what she will really get delivered.

A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, reveals 90 percent of Chinese shoppers admit to just this kind of interaction with friends and retailers on social media, and being influenced to buy more as a result.

"Social media has become part of the daily fabric of shopping in China and it appears to have increasing power to influence purchasing decisions," said Chan Wentao, PwC China's associate director of digital services, who added that globally only 62 percent of people in the survey admitted to buying more online because of what they see and read on social media.

"Consumers trust information shared on social channels, and more retailers are starting to realize this. Companies are investing strongly as a result, to turn social engagement into sales to stay relevant in this new retail world. They have to meet their consumers' appetite for innovation."

The report concludes that this increased investment in social media is now blurring the line between online and offline retailing more than ever before.

PwC gathered the opinions of 19,000 online shoppers across 19 countries and regions, including 906 from China.

It quizzed them on purchasing preferences, the use of different shopping channels, and their expectations of retailers.

The study found that Chinese consumers reacted strongest to real-time, personalized retail offers. These took many forms, including digital coupons, exclusive branded content, or social media contests. But they shared the same characteristic of being most effective hyper-targeted by location.

The survey also revealed 63 percent of Chinese consumers were willing to store their private payment and delivery information in an app on their mobile-almost double the global rate of 33 percent. Chinese consumers were a lot more willing, too, to use mobile payments than their global peers.

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