Online purchases made on two of China’s largest shopping websites, Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com, increased by 600 percent last year, according to new figures published by its owner the Alibaba Group.

The report, summarized on Alizila, has revealed that the number of consumers who visited the two online marketplaces through a mobile device, either by an app or WAP browser, hit 300 million in 2012.

Not all of those users were reaching the checkout though. The research also showed that only 57 million, or 19 percent, finished the transaction when accessing the service through a smartphone or tablet.

It shows that while the interest in Alibaba’s ecommerce stores is high, consumer behaviour is increasingly shifting to a mobile-first approach, and there’s still room for improvement when it comes to capitalizing on potential purchases.

To emphasize this, the total value attributed to purchases with a mobile device was not disclosed for the 12 month period.

We do know, however, that purchases with a mobile phone made up 6.87 percent of all transactions on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com throughout 2012.

That’s not bad, given that mobile transactions made up only 1.77 percent in 2011. Some analysts have also estimated that Amazon’s mobile sales represented between 5 and 8 percent of total purchases in 2012 – so Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com appear to be in touching distance.

The research also showed that on average, 220,000 products were sold every hour through a smartphone or tablet on the two ecommerce sites.

Alex Qiu, Vice President and General Manager of the Mobile Business Unit at Alibaba Group – the parent company of Taobao and Tmall.com – said mobile adoption is much faster in China than it used to be.

“Mobile is changing how people use the Internet, because it provides a different Internet experience,” he said.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of shoppers who accessed Taobao on a mobile device said they were searching for products, while 14.2 percent were tracking the estimated delivery or status of their package.

Taobao also discovered that 9.28 million people had searched for products on a daily basis through Taobao Marketplace in 2012. On average, those users were searching 13 or 14 times per day.

The report also found that women were shopping on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com more than men. Last year, women spent an average of RMB 1757 ($283 USD), in comparison to RMB 1,144 ($184 USD) for men.

Taobao Marketplace is an influential online retailer, and the international community is starting to take notice. Earlier this year, Appconomy announced a Cloud Commerce Platform that helps private merchants on Taobao build custom mobile apps for their storefronts. It’s but one way to attract new vendors, similar to the third-party offerings available on Amazon.

It also follows the news that Jonathan Lu, Group Executive Vice President and Head of Data at Alibaba, is to replace Jack Ma as the firm’s CEO.

Image Credit: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images