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China surpasses US in eRetail sales

  • Mobile & online transactions to reach 125 billion annually by 2018
  • 'Commuter commerce' and digital migration to drive growth
  • Data breaches damage consumer confidence

With nearly USD 450 billion in eRetail sales during 2014, China had comfortably surpassed the US (USD 296 billion) to become the largest single market, with Japan, the UK and France completing the top five, a new research from Juniper highlighted.

Much of China’s growth can be attributed to the surge in mcommerce, which will account for around 44 per cent of its sales by value this year. Ecommerce platform Alibaba attracted more than 330 million buyers during 2014, the report finds.

The number of annual purchases made via mobiles, tablets, desktops and other connected devices should reach 125 billion annually by 2018, up by more than 60 per cent on this year’s total.

However, the report pointed out that in 2015, despite the dramatic increase in purchases via smartphones and tablets, two-thirds (66 per cent) of global eRetail spend occurred via desktops and laptops. But it also highlighted that this proportion is diminishing year-on-year as, in many countries, user behaviour shifts to purchasing via mobile devices.

A number of factors are behind the growth of mcommerce – these include a rise in ‘commuter commerce’ (purchasing while on-the-go) which in turn was fuelled by the availability of Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity on public transport. The report also observed that digital transaction volumes would be further bolstered with the continued transition from physical formats (such as DVDs and CD-ROMs) to digital, and the rise in streamed subscription services.

However, the research cautioned that several high profile data breaches at retailers had damaged consumer confidence. As research author Dr Windsor Holden observed, “At worst, data breaches can lead to significant customer churn, together with possible remuneration requirements. Consumers need to be reassured that their vital information is not being compromised or shared.”

It is important for retailers to deliver a consistency of message, branding and shopping experience across all channels, the report pointed out. Retailers should also ensure that they scale up the resources on offer at peak periods (eg Black Friday or when promotions are being offered), to cope with the likelihood of additional pressures on online customer support.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.