Trends in China: How the world can learn from China’s booming e-commerce landscape


This week, China’s 1.3 billion population will celebrate Chinese New Year and the start of the Year of the Dog. The celebrations will last for sixteen days, starting on New Year’s Eve (15th Feb) to the Lantern Festival on March 2nd. Preparation for the New Year celebrations is known as a ‘shopping boom time (1)’. Many transactions will be completed this week in preparation for the two weeks of celebrations. Interestingly, the majority of these transactions will be completed using local payment methods, specifically e-wallets such as WeChat Pay and Alipay.

The Chinese e-commerce market is booming; research from PPRO Group found the market is worth a staggering $865 billion (2) with growth rates higher than – the total UK e-commerce market. So how can UK businesses take advantage from China’s healthy ecommerce market? PPRO Group has pulled together seven considerations for UK retailers, when looking to attract the attention of the Chinese consumer.

  1. Each year, Chinese e-commerce grows by more than the total amount of the entire UK e-commerce market.
    In 2018, Chinese e-commerce will grow by $233.5 billion. That’s $30 billion more than the total value of all goods bought online in the UK.
  2. Chinese online shoppers spend $208 billion a year using credit cards which UK retailers don’t accept
    96% of Chinese credit cards are issued by local schemes and only 4% of all online transactions in China are made using international credit cards, such as Mastercard and Visa. If retailers don’t support local schemes, they’re cut out of a $200 billion market.
  3. Don’t miss out on $650 billion of online spend using alternative payment methods
    Every year, Chinese consumers buy $650 billion worth of goods using local bank transfer apps, e-wallets, cash-on-delivery services and other locally preferred payment methods.
  4. Every year, Chinese online shoppers spend over $100 billion just on clothes
    Fashion is the most popular item for Chinese online shoppers. Each year, Chinese online clothing sales are worth more than the entire UK fashion industry.
  5. One Chinese e-wallet has more users than there are people in the EU
    The Chinese e-wallet WeChat Pay has 980 million users compared to 500 million people in the whole of the EU. In 2017 alone, WeChat Pay was used by Chinese consumers at an average rate of 1 million transactions per minute.
  6. M-commerce in China is worth $173 billion
    Every year, the Chinese spend almost $200 billion from their mobile phones. And with China spending $400 billion on 5G, the number of mobile users is set to rocket in the coming years.
  7. 40% of all global e-commerce sales are made in China
    The Chinese share of all global retail sales is around 30%, but for e-commerce sales, it’s 40%. And that number will grow as more people come online.

Want to sell to the world? Start with China.