retail trend: ecommerce & china

2018 February 14

mobile continues to drive ecommerce sales in china

The digital revolution is changing the way we browse, shop and consume the world over, but it’s China that’s leading the way with e-commerce sales of $1.1 trillion (eMarketer 2017) and penetration of internet-enabled mobile devices in the country at 95%.

Online sales in China are expected to grow from 17% of total retail sales in 2017 to 25% in 2020 (Goldman Sachs 2017) the sector is notoriously competitive and successful players must constantly innovate. The market is dominated by 3 major players, Alibaba, JD and Tencent but perhaps the best known platform is Alibaba’s Tmall with 53% market share (Euromonitor 2016).


image courtesy of statista

Brands wanting to take advantage of this burgeoning market must look at how they can offer an as seamless retail experience as possible and increasingly how they can go beyond mere transaction and incorporate storytelling. Omni-channel strategies are focusing on how to deliver a pain-free customer experience from browsing through to returns; some retailers are using physical stores to fulfil e-commerce orders and returns (UNIQULO) and others are linking their off-line loyalty programmes with 3rd party etail platforms (Lancome & Tmall). There is also a drive to bring storytelling to ecommerce - Tmall has recently started incorporating video, livestreaming and VR to bring a real sense of entertainment to the online shopping experience.

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Data gleaned from 3rd party platforms is increasingly driving marketing strategy, for example browsing and transaction data is being used to drive marketing content and personalized messages. As etailers continue to digitize their operations and harness their analytics capabilities, data will be increasingly used to find relevance for every single consumer.  Unilever calls this ‘segments of 1’ and claims this is the future of FMCG marketing where brands look to engage with consumers one on one through data-driven tailoring.


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