Forecasts for Tech: By 2020, observers can expect to see China’s total retail consumption jump 50 percent to $6.5 trillion, with online transactions accounting for half of that growth. And 70 percent of those e-tail purchases will be conducted via mobile devices. Over that same five-year period, cross-border e-commerce will have grown so high—to $152.1 billion—that it will represent one-third of the country’s total foreign trade.
So say think tanks and research firms watching the world’s second-largest economy as it transitions from its former manufacturing base to one driven by consumption. The predictions were issued by Alibaba Research Institute, the research arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, as part of its inaugural “Think Tank Summit on the New Economy” held Saturday in Beijing.
The new annual event brought together over 600 thought leaders to look at ahead at the next five years in Chinese commerce. A panel of judges surveyed research from the 40 participating organizations and picked “10 Forecasts for the New Economy,” which focused not only on the importance of e-commerce but also the impact that the Internet will have China’s manufacturing, logistics, rural economy and society. The use of data, too, culled from billions of transactions as Chinese consumers buy and sell goods and services online, will also play a key role.
“China today is in the midst of transforming from an industrial-driven economy to a data-driven economy,” Gao Hongbing, dean of AliResearch and vice president of Alibaba Group, said in a statement. “These 10 forecasts are a small part of our observation and thinking, and we hope they can play a part in stimulating further deliberation on the society’s future development.”
Bain & Co. predicted that China’s online retail market would reach $1.52 trillion, accounting for 22 percent of the country’s retail industry, with maternity and baby products being the strongest category and third-and fourth-tier cities driving a significant part of the growth. The Boston-based management consultancy also said that mobile Internet would make up 70 percent of all online sales.
Bain put the total figure for cross-border e-commerce in China at $152 billion, with AliResearch in a separate prediction saying it expects cross-border e-commerce to make up one-third of China’s foreign trade in five years. The China Center for International Economic Exchanges said “e-international trade” will change how trade overall is done and that it will account for account for 30 percent to 40 percent of total world trade by 2025.
Boston Consulting Group estimated that China’s consumer market will climb $2.3 trillion, or 50 percent, to $6.5 trillion by the close of the decade. Online will account for 42 percent of that growth, the management consultancy said.
The Internet would also penetrate all rural areas of China, according to Zhejiang University’s China Academy for Rural Development. As a result, the Information Research Department of the State Information Center of China said the sharing economy will rise to full prominence given this full penetration of broadband coverage in China. The Institute of Information Society Studies said China would have a “soft law” system providing a framework for Internet governance by 2020 as well.
The other predictions included one from the Information Society 50 Forum & Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Peking University, which said that data will digitize how consumers are assessed, say, in providing individual recommendations. The Information Society also noted that the vast reams of data collected as consumers buy and sell goods online will as a result erode some of their privacy.
ZenCoo, meanwhile, predicted that social measurement and cognitive experiments will replace statistical sampling, revolutionizing the fundamental theories of many disciplines including psychology, sociology, economics, and communications.
And finally, according to the Data Center of China Internet, the 3D printing market will reach $15.2 billion, with households using them the most.