April 16, 2012, 11:56 AM

E-commerce in China will grow 20% annually through 2016

China is Asia-Pacific’s top market for e-retail, followed by Japan, a report says.

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E-commerce sales in China are set to grow 20.41% annually to reach $356.1 billion in 2016, according to a new online retail forecast for the Asia-Pacific region issued by Forrester Research Inc. analyst Zia Daniell Wigder. E-commerce is expected to generate $169.4 billion in sales this year in China.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is by far the leading e-commerce market in Asia-Pacific in terms of sales, the report says. Yet only 40% of online Chinese consumers shop on the web today, less than in more mature e-commerce markets such as Japan, where 69% of online consumers buy online, and Australia, where 58% do so. Forrester projects that 58% of online Chinese consumers will shop online in 2016.

“China’s adoption of e-commerce surpasses that of any other market,” Wigder says in her “Asia Pacific Online Retail Forecast, 2011 to 2016” report. “When the U.S. online retail market was roughly the same size as China’s is today, it was growing at a fraction of the pace.”

The forecast also notes e-commerce’s rapid growth in India, where sales are forecast to grow 53% annually through 2016. Wigder says e-commerce sales in India will surpass $1 billion for the first time this year and reach $8.8 billion by 2016.

Forrester Research’s projections for Asia-Pacific e-commerce sales by country (in billions, in U.S. dollars), in 2012 and 2016.

• China: $169.4, $356.1

• Japan: $63.9, $97.6

• Australia: $23.2, $35.4

• India: $1.6, $8.8

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago in June, several sessions will take up international e-commerce. For instance, Felicity Lewis, executive director of global online and CRM, Jurlique Holistic Skin Care Inc., and Maryssa Miller, vice president of e-commerce, Createthe Group, will speak in a session entitled “Bonus: Six keys to an effective global e-commerce operation.”

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