China eCommerce: Here’s everything you need to know


China became an eCommerce powerhouse almost overnight. Driven by the availability of smartphones and greater access to the internet, China eCommerce has achieved the number one spot globally. 

But how did it get there? And what opportunities does breaking into the market present? We dive deeper into what the China eCommerce market offers and where it’s headed in the future.


China's eCommerce market share

Accounting for an over 40% share of the global eCommerce market, China is the one to beat. China’s eCommerce market has gone from relatively small to gigantic over the last decade, overtaking the US and UK for the number one spot in 2021.

According to Statista, Chinese retail eCommerce sales have grown from $2,315 billion in 2020 to $2,879 billion in 2022, with a projected growth to $3,895 billion by 2026.

Digital advancements and the mass adoption of mobile devices have primarily driven this substantial growth. Internet usage in China has seen a jump from 100 million users in 2005 to 800 million today.

The top online stores in China are:

  • An all-round eCommerce store similar to Amazon, JD took the top spot in 2021 with a revenue of $95.5 billion.

  • Another mass eCommerce store, came in second place with $22.8 billion in revenue.

  • Accounted for $14.9 billion worth of sales in 2021.


What opportunities does China's eCommerce market hold?

Apart from the obvious — sales on a mass scale — the Chinese eCommerce market holds immense opportunities for those planning to make a move. 

Digital innovation is possibly the most attractive aspect of China’s eCommerce market. It’s the home of dynamic digital innovators, changing the way people shop online as we know it. Online shopping in China is inventive, social, gamified and digital-first.

eCommerce giant, Alibaba is a prime example of how digital innovation can generate huge success. They’ve built a rich digital ecosystem that is now being replicated by others, as well as hugely successful digital campaigns to generate sales. Their Singles’ Day 2022 event generated $84 billion in sales alone.

A digital phenomenon boosting China’s eCommerce sales even further is live streaming. Since replicated by platforms such as TikTok, live streams allow consumers to shop products featured on the live stream in real-time. It’s a more immersive experience and it’s working, accounting for $60 billion in annual sales.

Another characteristic of the Chinese eCommerce market that makes it so successful is the vast logistics ecosystem. Many retailers offer next-day delivery as standard, with some even offering same-day services. As a result, several domestic shipping companies have been born from this unprecedented demand.


How to successfully enter China's eCommerce market

With so much to offer, it’s no wonder breaking into China’s eCommerce market has become a top priority for eCommerce businesses seeking growth opportunities. 

The first step to achieving success with eCommerce in China is a shift in attitudes. In China, online shopping is for anyone, any time, any place, anywhere, whereas in the US and Europe, it’s more seen as a convenience for those who can’t access a physical store.

Then, you’ll need to ensure any strategies you create are digital-first. China is the home of the digital revolution. Digital is at the heart of everything. It’s a market that takes full advantage of digital payments, group deals, social media and live streaming.

A staggering 98% of China’s total internet users go online using their mobile devices, so this should be a primary focus when deciding which approach is best.

In short, being successful in China’s eCommerce market requires us to rethink what we know. In China, eCommerce is not just a digital representation of a store or shopping experience. It’s a chance to be social, a chance to explore, an experience and you need to make sure you’re catering to these consumer needs.


Develop your eCommerce skills to succeed

Harnessing the power of China’s eCommerce market offers immense opportunities to enhance your digital channels and achieve significant growth. But how do you break into a market you’ve previously had no interaction with?

While you’ll need to work with experts, consultants and strategists well-versed in China’s eCommerce market, a big part of the puzzle is educating your employees about the workings of the market and the benefits it holds.

Chinese eCommerce is a rapidly growing and evolving market, with new technologies and consumer needs regularly coming into play. To help your business and eCommerce employees stay one step ahead, you need to invest in training that provides real value and a visible ROI.


Take the first step today

Unsure where to start? We’ve got the course for you. At Circus Street, we’re dedicated to providing in-depth, engaging training that’s always up to date with the latest industry trends. 

Our eCommerce in China course covers key trends and players shaping eCommerce in this market, so you can use the insights to inform your next moves.


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