Insight & Analysis

What Chinese Customers Really Want From Online Shopping


Chinese online shopping

Shoppers in China are really embracing online shopping, especially with rising incomes and growing interest in Western products. And while there are broad trends and preferences when it comes to online shopping, there is no one-size-fits-all way to approach it.

In general, online shoppers in China are fairly price sensitive but also willing to pay premium prices for genuine quality and branded products. They are also largely well-informed and savvy, and put quite a bit of weight on opinions on social media, especially those of KOLs, or key opinion leaders.

Nielsen 2014 study on online shopping

During July and August of 2014, global information and measurement company Nielsen N.V. conducted a survey of 4,500 Chinese online shoppers aged over 18.

The study showed that online shoppers tend to go through a multi-step process prior to committing to purchase, which included doing thorough research on the product, and also comparing prices both online and offline. This clearly shows that being well-informed is very important to online shoppers. Many shoppers also reported placing value on having a good overall shopping experience.

Specific findings

In a broad sense, it was found that the top three things that online shoppers want are – a wide selection of brands and products, comparatively lower prices, and convenience.

Despite that, it’s not really possible to generalise, as the online shopping world is largely segmented by age group, income level, education, and gender. This means that there are different priorities among different types of shoppers.

Examples of this include:

  • The most price sensitive shoppers tend to be aged 40 or over and have a relatively low income.
  • Online-dependent shoppers are mostly aged 30 to 40 with higher incomes and education levels.
  • Cautious or ‘rational online’ shoppers are more likely to be males aged 26-30 with good incomes and a high standard when it comes to quality.

Other findings included:

  • Some of the most popular products and services purchased online included apparel, daily household products, and tourism.
  • 81% of shoppers said they had purchased goods online using a smartphone. Shoppers using mobile devices also reported a preference for shopping apps.
  • Ease of use was also important, with 75% of the respondents reporting they liked the convenience of e-commerce.


Luxury buying

The interest in luxury good is growing in China, with high-end cosmetics and skincare products dominating the market. 45% said they had bought luxury goods online and 48% indicated that they intended doing so in the near future.

Overseas buying

When it comes to purchasing online from overseas, the top category was apparel, accessories and handbags at 43%, cosmetics and personal care at 41%, and mother and baby products at 30%. Overseas online shoppers are also more likely to be women (57%). 32% of respondents reported having purchased online from overseas.

In general, online shoppers in China are looking for quality, reliability, reasonable prices, and convenience. Therefore it’s important to meet these requirements if you want to do well in the world of online shopping in China.

If you would like assistance in breaking into the online market in China, contact our team at Digital Crew.

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