Report: Online retail in China will triple to reach $360 billion by 2015

Report: Online retail in China will triple to reach $360 billion by 2015

China’s Internet commerce market is being tipped to see its value triple over the next three years to reach a massive $360 billion by the end of 2015, a new report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) concludes.

The 193 million online shoppers in China make it the world’s largest e-commerce market, with 23 million more than in the US, but total industry spend remains higher in America. BCG sees this changing and it believes that colossal growth will see China become the world’s largest market for Web retail by 2015.

The firm says that the staggering increase will come about primarily as a result of growing acceptance of online payments among China’s rapidly growing Internet userbase. There are currently more than half a billion online, but BCG foresees this rising to 700 million by 2015.

That’s a number, it explains, that is close to twice the size of the online population of Japan and the US combined. That’s some serious potential.

Walmart, Paypal and others have already lasered their focus on China but, as BCG’s Christoph Nettesheim explains, they are likely to be joined by other players with international ambition.

“In just a few years, China has become the largest Internet market in the world. It will shortly be the most significant, too,” Nettesheim explains. “Companies with global ambitions need to have an active online presence in China if they expect to succeed.”

However, while the growth is tipped to peak in a few years, now is the time for international firms to begin shifting their focus to China, according to BCG’s David C. Michael.

“Faster than in any other major economy, the Internet is becoming embedded in Chinese society,” says Michael. “The rapid growth represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for companies that figure out how to connect with China’s digital generations.”

The challenge is no easy one as local services dominate the Chinese market, with Alibaba the undisputed leader. Its Taobao service responsible for 90 percent of consumer-to-consumer transactions, Tmall (now Taobao Mall) covering almost half of all B2C trade and the top B2B services with 50 percent market share.

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