The Chinese e-commerce market is set to register a strong compound annual growth rate of 12.4 per cent from US$2.1 trillion in 2021 to US$3.0 trillion in 2024, forecasts GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
According to GlobalData, e-commerce sales in China are expected to register a robust growth of 17.2 per cent in 2021, as consumers increasingly shift from offline to online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Chinese e-commerce evolved rapidly over the last five years, supported by high Internet and smartphone penetration, increasing consumer confidence in online shopping, the emergence of e-commerce platforms, and the availability of alternative payment solutions such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, said Nikhil Reddy, banking and payments analyst at GlobalData. “The coronavirus has further accelerated this trend as consumers are increasingly using an online channel for their purchases.”
Although the crisis has led to a slump in overall consumer spending, it has resulted in the growth of e-commerce purchases, thereby further widening the gap between online and offline shopping.
According to China’s government statistician, while the total retail sales of consumer goods in the country declined by 3.9 per cent in 2020, online retail sales of physical goods increased by 14.8 per cent during the same period.
While sectors such as travel and accommodation, and restaurants services were affected due to the lockdown and travel restrictions, strong growth is seen in online purchases of goods.
Alternative payment solutions such as Alipay and WeChat Pay are the most popular payment methods for online transactions in China, and both of them collectively account for over half of total e-commerce sales in the country.
While Alipay benefits as a primary payment tool on all the e-commerce platforms owned by the Alibaba group, WeChat Pay, which is offered by WeChat messaging app, leverages its massive 1.2 billion social media user bases to push online payments. As Chinese consumers continue to embrace e-commerce, these payment solutions will be greatly benefited.
New payment models such as buy now, pay later are being launched to gain a share of the largest e-commerce payment market. In March 2020, Tencent introduced Fen Fu, a credit feature in its WeChat app, allowing users to shop and pay later in instalments. Alipay offers similar ‘buy now pay later’ service called Huabei.
“Chinese e-commerce market has been on the rise during the last five years. The uptrend is likely to continue over the next few years driven by the growing consumer preference, and the emergence of new online payment methods.”