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Online Carnival (2)

By Zhou Xiaoyan (Beijing Review)

15:53, December 03, 2012

Online purchase bonanza

With online shopping popular among the younger generation, Chinese retailers are quickly moving to cash in.

"E-commerce will utterly change China's business structure," said Jack Ma, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, in an interview with China Central Television. "Online shopping figures are a signal that China's economy is making a transition."

"E-commerce is one of few bright spots in China's economy now," Alibaba Group CSO Zeng Ming said at a media briefing on the sidelines of the company's annual Alifest customer convention in Hangzhou.

Alibaba Group's main shopping websites will see sales triple to 3 trillion yuan ($481.8 billion) over the next five to seven years, as the country's online retail market continues to expand despite slower growth overall in the Chinese economy, said Zeng.

"People shopped online only occasionally in the past, but now online shopping is a lifestyle embraced by many," said Zhang Yong, President of Tmall.

Wang Lizhe, a teacher at Renmin University of China (RUC), just purchased an apartment in Beijing and plans to decorate it through purchases made online.

"Shopping online has become a habit of mine. Buying stuff for our home online will save me tons of money and take less time and energy," he said.

"When I want to buy something, I usually go to the store first to see the product first hand before heading online to find it at a more reasonable price. It's how I do things," said Wang Linzhe.

This dramatic lifestyle shift from offline to online shopping has been a boon for online retailers.

Total e-commerce sales revenue in 2011 stood at $55.37 billion, up 103.7 percent year on year. The year-on-year growth rate in 2012 is estimated to be 94.1 percent, said eMarketer, a market research firm.

In the third quarter of 2012, the total transaction value of China's e-commerce market amounted to 1.99 trillion yuan ($319.8 billion), up 21.9 percent year on year, and up 6 percent compared with the second quarter, according to a report from the Shanghai-based iResearch Consulting Group, which specializes in China's Internet industry.

In 2011, the total number of online shoppers in China stood at 187 million, representing an increase of 39 million from the previous year, according to an iResearch report.

Direct employment in China's e-commerce had topped 1.90 million people as of June 2012, and the number is expected to reach 2.65 million by the end of this year, the report said.

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