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Shoppaholic? Smart Chinese women shop online - AJPR

Shoppaholic? Smart Chinese women shop online

You can buy just about anything you want in Beijing, but most Western brand products cost at least 2 times more. It looks that smart Chinese women are shopping online to save money, and to spend more.

I visited Beijing back in June during the SEMPO Asia Tour, and was amazed – again – by the contrast of modern vs. traditional, Asian vs. Western, and cheap vs. luxury this city had. Just like New York doesn’t really represent the average city in America, and the life in Tokyo can be very much different from the life in Okinawa, I am aware that Beijing certainly isn’t a typical city in China. Although Chinese economy has grown tremendously in the past 10 years, “Made in China” still represents “cheap” in both “inexpensive” and “low quality” products to many of us. And you can certainly go cheap in Beijing by going to shopping malls like Pearl Market and Silk Market. But, most people I saw at these markets were either tourists or older local people. Where do young and successful women go shopping in Beijing?

Beijing is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world after all, they do have many high-end Western brand shops such as Louis Vuitton, Nike, Clinique, etc., it’s like walking down the 5th Ave in Manhattan. The crazy thing was that after adding taxes, duties, shipping, etc. etc. the price of most items were at least twice as much as what we’d pay for it in US! China Daily reported that China’s online shopping jumped 128.5% in 2008 to more than US$17 billion. An article on Women in China talked about a woman saved more than US$1000 by purchasing a LV handbag online even after paying US$143 to a purchasing agent from The bag was sold at local store for US$2857, and on Taobao for US$1430.

China’s Online Market Report 2009 by Market Avenue reports,

By the end of 2008, the online shopping user base (total users that had bought something online at least once over the past year) in China had amounted to 80 million, up 45.5% year on year, to 26.8% of China’s Internet user base. It is expected that the proportion of the online shopping users among the Internet users will exceed 40% by 2010 amid the fast growth of online shopping.

If you own an online shopping site, you are probably thinking of targeting China. Before you invest money into localizing your website, here’s the first issue (and perhaps one of the most important issues) you should check

– Does your online transaction system accept Chinese credit cards, or any other payment options?

There are more Chinese people with credit cards, but often times the cards are not accepted by the online transaction systems used by overseas websites. If you go with sites like Taobao, you can avoid dealing with each customer’s payment problems by having Taobao in the middle. I also suggest that you find a local shop, who is willing to accept the payment from the customers and send the money to you for a handling fee. This could be a good way to test the market for your products with smaller risk. For trade regulations, customs’ taxes, etc., check with the Trade Organizations for detail.