With the development of the internet, e-commerce and logistics, Chinese people are shopping in a very different way today, compared to the past. The reason for this? Two words: online shopping.
A different way of consumption
According to Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), in the first half of 2019, domestic online retail sales exceeded 4.82 trillion yuan (about 682 billion U.S. dollars), up 17.8 percent from the previous year.
This accounted for 25 percent of total retail sales of consumer goods. Basically, for every 100 dollars spent, 25 dollars were spent online.
Online shopping festivals have become a huge phenomenon. Singles' Day, Chinese Valentine's Day and Girls' and Women's Day are just a few of the e-commerce events that send online shoppers crazy every year.
Online retailer JD.com has its own June 18 shopping festival ("618") and this year, from June 1 to 18, orders topped 28 billion U.S. dollars.
All this, in turn, has helped boost logistics. Data from State Post Bureau of China showed that in 2018, every Chinese person received on average 36 express deliveries, compared to 29 the previous year.
"With (the) widespread use of the internet, new technology and business models have brought more choices to Chinese consumers," said Zhao Shuogang, professor from State Information Center of China.
"For example, the way people shop and pay has seen big changes. And merchants can analyze consumers' behaviors, preferences and hobbies via a range of technology, such as big data, to provide consumers with more targeted and differentiated products," Zhao added.
Variety of consumers
From east to west and north to south, the Chinese consumer market has expanded over the past few decades.
According to National Bureau of Statistics, nearly 400 million people have become middle-income earners in China.
They make up over 30 percent of the world's total. Inevitably, this has had an impact on consumption, determining what people buy, and how.
A growing elderly population, as well as young people, born in the 1990s and 2000s with high expectations, are also reshaping consumption and will continue to do so in the years to come.
China is a huge consumer market, according to Zhao, consumer spending has become the major driving force for China's economic growth, and will contribute more to the country's economy in the future.
"There is also an increasing trend towards quality products, as consumers are more willing to spend money on themselves," said Zhao.
Overseas online shopping
One area that has seen tremendous growth is overseas online shopping, which is when Chinese consumers use domestic online retailers to buy from brands and shops overseas.
This group of consumers includes people living in coastal provinces like Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu who have the most spending power, but also those living in inland areas like Shanxi, Hebei and Henan, which have seen the fastest growth in overseas online shopping.
Most overseas online shoppers are young people, born in the 1980s and 1990s.
Their priorities also differ from other buyers: when purchasing food, maternity products, cosmetics, and cars, they pay more attention to safety. When shopping for clothes, shoes, watches, and jewelry, they favor design and style, based on a MOFCOM report.
"China now has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, and is able to import more consumer goods. This also meets consumer demands for quality goods, as consumers have the ability to buy more imported products," said Bai Ming, professor from Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under MOFCOM.
Bai explained that manufacturers in many countries want to sell their products to Chinese consumers, and that's why overseas online shopping has developed so rapidly in recent years in China.
Meeting the consumption needs of the Chinese people in the future will continue to be a challenge.
But it will also help stimulate the economy and in the process, bring more market opportunities to the rest of the world.