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Chinese Consumers Exceed $500 Billion in Annual B2C Purchases Online, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

China is posting phenomenal growth in ecommerce.  For 2022, eMarketer forecasted $2.879 trillion in Chinese ecommerce sales, up from $2.639 trillion in 2021 and $2.315 trillion in 2020.  (This figure includes most orders of goods and services ordered online, except for travel and event tickets.)  This growth is due to widely available internet access, a growing middle class, the development of Chinese ecommerce businesses such as and Tencent, sophisticated payment technologies and aggressive development of fast product delivery services.  The Coronavirus pandemic also played a significant role in ecommerce escalation., the China-based owner of a wide variety of online platforms and services, had 903 million active users in mid-2022.  Its flagship web site is Taobao, which is similar to eBay.  It offers an enormous array of merchandise but relies on third parties for fulfillment, delivery and logistics as well as other services.  Alibaba site Tmall is a marketplace for luxury brands of clothing, food and electronics.  Tmall is perfectly positioned to serve China’s growing middle class.
China’s Singles’ Day, an ecommerce holiday and the world’s largest internet shopping event, brought in a record $84.54 billion in sales for Alibaba alone, in November 2021, compared to $74.1 billion in 2020 and $38.4 billion in 2019 (Alibaba did not release sales figures for 2022’s Singles’ Day).  A notable difference between Chinese and U.S. online buyers is that in China, shoppers often buy from digital marketplaces rather than traditional brick and mortar retailers’ web sites.  These marketplaces, including Alibaba, are megasites similar to eBay or Amazon Marketplace.
Alibaba has competitors, including and Yihaodian. offers same-day delivery services in cities across China (Alibaba offers it through its Cainiao logistics arm), while Yihaodian became 100% owned by Walmart as of mid-2015.  With Walmart’s backing, Yihaodian grew to have hundreds of distribution centers.  In 2016, Walmart sold the Yihaodian marketplace to, but retained its direct sales business.  Walmart and are further partnering, in that Sam’s Club membership is available on and Walmart’s physical stores are listed on the Chinese firm’s O2O JV Dada delivery platform.
Many western companies are enjoying reasonable levels of success in doing business in China.  Although the establishment of a Chinese-licensed business unit and the opening of an account in a Chinese bank are still difficult and time consuming requirements, there are some initiatives that are making the effort easier.  Alibaba created Tmall Global, an international marketplace in which foreign companies can sell to Chinese customers without creating Chinese subsidiaries or setting up bank accounts.  Ant Financial, an Alibaba spinoff, takes care of transaction processing with the firms’ home-country banks, while shipping and handling are overseen by delivery firm Cainiao.  Another Tmall Global plus is that it has worked with the Chinese government to create bonded warehouses in several cities that are free from standard import duties in some cases, and taxed at a lower rate than wholesale purchases.

Internet Research Tip: The Internet in China
For the latest information on internet usage and web sites in China, visit the China Internet Network Information Center,  The group publishes extremely useful research and survey results, and its web site is available in English as well as the Chinese language.

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