November 15, 2011, 11:23 AM

E-commerce spending in China set to increase 320% by 2015

The Boston Consulting Group projects spending to hit $315 billion within five years.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Annual e-commerce spending in China will reach 2 trillion yuan (US$315 billion) by 2015, a 320% increase from 476 billion yuan (US$75 billion) in 2010, according to a projection released this week by The Boston Consulting Group.  The research firm says China has 145 million online shoppers, second only to the 170 million online shoppers in the United States. By 2015, the report says, the value of e-commerce sales in China will surpass that in the United States.

 “Online spending in China is expected to surge over the next five years as personal incomes and comfort with online shopping increase,” says the consulting firm. “No longer just bargain hunters, more and more of China’s e-shoppers are looking for unique products, better service and an engaging online experience.”

The Boston Consulting Group says that by 2015, the average online shopper in China will spend about $940 annually, twice the current rate. The average in the United States stands at about $1,000 annually, the firm says.

Much of that shopping in China will include ample online research, the report says. “Chinese shoppers are the most likely of the world's online consumers to check for product recommendations on social networking sites,” the consultancy says. “In China, trust levels for online information sources like blogs, review sites and social networking sites are far higher than for offline sources like TV ads or manufacturers' printed materials.”

That said, online shoppers in China are a skeptical bunch, with 45% of shoppers worrying about their purchased items being swapped with fakes before delivery. The Boston Consulting Group surveyed 4,000 Chinese online shoppers to arrive at its findings.

The report also says that Taobao.com, which sells more than 800 million products, accounts for 79% of the online transaction volume in China, and that the country’s online retailing growth is due in large part to the lack of bricks-and-mortar stores in Chinese cities.

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  • for overseas business, selling to China online is a low cost and risk market entry option.

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