Chinese consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones to buy a variety of products that traditionally have been purchased in brick-and-mortar stores, according to Taobao, China’s largest online retail website. At the company’s first annual “data sharing event” held Jan. 6 in Bejing, Taobao officials said m-commerce (mobile e-commerce) gained “substantial traction” last year, with more than 17 million unique users visiting Taobao via their phones daily. Although the company did not reveal how much m-commerce sales grew last year, officials did say Taobao’s highest single-day m-commerce transaction volume totaled RMB37 million (U.S.$5.58 million).
Until recently, m-commerce in China has consisted mainly of sales of digital goods and services such as ringtones, games and (prior to a government crackdown last year) online porn. But with network data speeds improving and more capable smartphones getting into the hands of millions, tech-savvy youths are using handheld devices as an alternative to computers for web shopping.Taobao said the top 10 best-selling items on Taobao mobile shopping ar last year were, in descending order: mobile phone credit; women’s clothing; consumer electronics; men’s clothing; online gaming cards; skincare products; snacks and other dry food items; sports shoes and bags; car accessories; and books and magazines. These top 10 product categories made up 73 percent of all mobile shopping transactions.
The Yangtze River Delta region had the highest concentration of users, amounting to 15 percent of total Taobao mobile shopping accounts. Not surprisingly, three-quarters of users are between ages 19 to 28. What is surprising: while women’s clothing was the most popular type of non-digital merchandise sold over phones, two-thirds of m-shoppers were men. Maybe a saccharin text message to the wife and/or girlfriend is no longer a sufficient display of affection on the mainlaind–now you gotta buy ’em sweaters, too.
(Alizila Staff reporting – copyright 2011)