The future of China’s retail market is all about e-commerce. Online consumers in China are already spoilt for choice in terms of platforms, products, electronic payments and same-day delivery, and new innovations are being launched literally every day. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, China was placing huge emphasis on the growth of their digital economy and this only accelerated in 2020. China’s online retail sales increased by approx. 12% last year, despite the period of intense lockdown in the first half of the year, and it is expected that e-Commerce sales in China will exceed bricks-and-mortar retail in 2021, the first time this has happened anywhere in the world (see SCMP article: 52.1% of China’s overall retail sales are expected to come from e-commerce transactions this year). All the latest forecasts suggest that we will see further advances in 2021.
Much of this growth is now being fuelled by the implementation of new technology on a massive scale, including live streaming, LED and holographic display technology, autonomous vehicle technologies, augmented reality and the integration of the social ranking system into the algorithms that influence consumer behaviour. The Economist magazine kicked off 2021 with their leader “Why retailers everywhere should look to China”, saying “it is in China, not the West, where the future of e-commerce is being staked out. Its market is far bigger and more creative, with tech firms blending e-commerce, social media and razzmatazz to become online-shopping emporia for 850m digital consumers”.
At the same time, China’s Government has made strong commitments to building world class digital infrastructure, including the large scale rollout and adoption of China’s 5G network, major ‘big data’ development initiatives and new cybersecurity laws and regulations. This will place China at the leading edge of e-commerce and digital marketing, a fact that is now widely acknowledged and understood around the world.
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