Booming eCommerce bolsters consumption


New landscape: Employees at a warehouse of Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics unit, in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. Online shopping symbolises new retail by enhancing transaction efficiency of commodities. — Reuters

BEIJING: China’s burgeoning eCommerce sector has played a vital role in bolstering the recovery of consumption, improving people’s livelihood and shoring up the economy as an increasing number of shoppers opt for high-quality and diversified products via online marketplaces, say experts.

Their comments came as this year marks the 30th anniversary of China’s full access to the Internet, which has profoundly transformed traditional economic models, accelerated social development, and revolutionised the way people work and live.

The term eCommerce was largely unheard of two decades ago. But today it is one of the pillars of the Chinese economy, industry insiders said, while highlighting that online shopping is injecting new impetus into China’s consumption, which serves as the main driving force boosting economic growth.

Major domestic eCommerce platforms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD and PDD Holdings, that connect countless business owners with hundreds of millions of customers looking for cost-effective deals, have already changed the traditional retail landscape of the world’s second-largest economy.

Li Zhongliang, a villager from Donghai county in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, sold crystal products worth thousands of dollars to consumers in the United Kingdom during a four-hour live streaming session on an online shopping platform.

Like Li, countless other residents in Donghai have seen sales surge via live streaming eCommerce. Sales from online eCommerce platforms in the county surpassed 28 billion yuan in 2021, representing China’s achievements in Internet construction and the fast-developing online retail sector.

According to a report from market consultancy iResearch, the market scale of China’s eCommerce segment based on livestreaming reached 4.9 trillion yuan in 2023, up 35.2% year-on-year.

The development of Taobao villages, which refer to a cluster of retailers within an administrative village where residents have embraced eCommerce primarily by using Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace, has helped lift many Chinese rural areas out of poverty by promoting agricultural products and other local specialties online.

Mo Daiqing, a senior analyst at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy, emphasised the importance of the online retail segment in boosting consumption, expanding employment and improving people’s livelihood, thus helping enhance resilience of the real economy.

It was regarded as a supplement to brick-and-mortar business until a promotional event called Singles Day shopping carnival turbocharged its stellar rise.

Initiated by Alibaba in 2009, the Double 11 or 11-11 promotional gala each November has morphed into the world’s biggest online shopping event.

Both Alibaba and JD have placed greater emphasis on empowering brands and small and medium merchants by helping the latter achieve digitised operations, as well as providing cost-effective products to capture price-sensitive consumers.

“The Singles Day online shopping extravaganza is pivotal to stimulating consumers’ purchasing appetites and promoting the recovery of consumption,” said Wang Yun, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research affiliated with the National Development and Reform Commission.Wang said online shopping symbolises new retail, and has been playing a significant part in reducing transaction links and information asymmetry, enhancing transaction efficiency of commodities, improving the consumer shopping experience and fostering high-quality economic growth.

China’s retail sales, a major indicator of the country’s consumption strength, climbed 4.7% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Online retail sales jumped 12.4% year-on-year to 3.3 trillion yuan during the January to March period, with online retail sales of physical goods expanding 11.6% and accounting for 23.3% of the total retail sales.

To meet consumers’ growing demand for a wide range of products and nurture new consumption growth points, eCommerce platforms have also accelerated steps to launch new and customised products by leveraging next-generation information technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and big data. — China Daily/ANN

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