E-commerce in China: as infinite as its wall

When you think of China you think big. Adjectives such as giant, huge or vast usually accompany any peripheral description in appreciation of the Asian country. The miles of Chinese wall are almost infinite, its demography rises to exponential numbers and its great cities are extensive. But leaving aside the commonplaces, if there is something that China has been emphasising in recent years it is in E-commerce. Here, too, their numbers are dizzying.

The country has more than 650 million Internet users and almost 400 million online shoppers spending more than 560 billion euros through this channel, according to official figures from the Chinese government, which expects annual growth in this market near 20%. Decontextualized in this way, these numbers may not tell us much, but if we compare it with the second and third most important market in the world, things start to get dizzy. The United States, the second in this ranking, invoices 317 billion while the United Kingdom moves 90 billion in online commerce annually.

E-commerce in China is already more than a fashion. Consumers there are increasingly online, to the point that more than 80% of internet users have made use of E-commerce at least once a year and their frequency rate exceeds up to four times digital consumers in the West. The Asian middle class and its mobile devices have taken over a market in which the shopping experience is getting better and the choices endless. Giants like Alibaba or Tencent, the owner of the Chinese WhatsApp, Wechat, set the pace for a business that at the moment knows no limit.

The change in the regulatory framework approved by the Chinese Government in 2013, and the opening of free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Fujian, has facilitated greater access to the digital commerce market in the country. Foreign E-commerce companies do not have to set up in China to operate in this channel, according to ICEX in its report, “The online market for consumer goods in China.” So, which company does not want to take this opportunity?

The DIA Group, which has more than 380 physical stores in the country since 2003 and a turnover of 240 million euros, has been developing several projects that are looking to advance in the online commerce sector. To its network of establishments located in Shanghai, the beginning of its E-commerce activities at the end of last year should be added. Through the commercial website, www.diatiantian.com, DIA already serves the entire inner ring of the city, with a population density of more than 40,000 people per square kilometre. In addition, the company offers the opportunity to make payments through the Alipay payment platform or the most used instant communication application in China, Wechat, where an application has been created to allow purchases to be made directly without the need to go online.

In addition to the development of its own digital channel, DIA in China was also one of the first foreign companies to sign an agreement with Alibaba to sell its import and value-added products on the T-Mall platform, a macro store where the consumer buys directly from the companies that are there. A strategy that Grupo DIA has recently extended with the signing of an agreement with the Chinese online services company Netease to boost the company’s online business through the Kaola.com application, one of the largest internet sales platforms in the country.

A final example of what online commerce in China means: on November 11 last year, coinciding with Singles Day in China, the Alibaba group managed to turn over in all its portals 13,026 million euros. In one day. Who does not want to take this opportunity?