Growth of Epic Proportions
You are most likely aware of China’s robust and ever-growing E-commerce industry. With millions of Chinese now out of poverty and advancements in technology made in the past decade, this has lead to a “perfect storm” for China’s e-commerce industry. To give you some perspective, in the first half of 2015 there were more than $253 billion in e-commerce sales and it is expected that half of all e-commerce transactions will come from mobile devices.
Although majority of these services target the local Chinese market, you can still take advantage of the convenience of China’s growing e-commerce. How to take advantage of all the convenience? Here is an introduction to shopping and payment systems to get you on your way to being a saavy online shopper in China.
Out of all the shopping websites in China Taobao is the largest with a wide range of products and services for users to choose from. Taobao is able to provide such a wide range of products because it uses a consumer-to-consumer business model, linking millions of sellers and buyers in one place. Taobao is also known for it’s low extremely low prices. Beware, in most cases low prices are achieved because the sellers on Taobao are selling not so authentic goods, something to keep in mind when shopping on Taobao.
Yihaodian is an online grocery store and if you take public transportation in China, you most likely have seen their innovative virtual shop advertisements throughout many bus and subway stations. Yihaodian unlike Taobao, uses a business-to-consumer business model, meaning that quality of and authenticity of products sold on Yihaodian are easier to control. Yihaodian also does a great job with it’s logistics. Shipment times are mostly quick and accurate.
JD.com primarily sells electronics on its website and apps. Similar to Yihaodian, JD.com or JingDong has made majority of its success by providing a platform for consumers and businesses to buy and sell products. JD.com is one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms and is continuing to grow in popularity.
Internet, Electricity, Water & Gas
With China’s e-commerce boom, companies usually slow to adopt new technologies such as government-run telecom and utility companies, have been forced to keep up pace and provide support for payment services like Alipay, WeChat Pay and others.
Ever heard of Apple Pay or Paypal? Alipay is similar to those services and has exploded to popularity in China in a short amount of time. Alipay really took off after smartphone adoption became more ubiquitous. Since majority of Chinese bank cards were not developed for easy use online, many have flocked to Alipay as a way to pay for things quickly and easily.
Alipay however is a little more difficult for foreigners to set up than local customers. Here is a guide to help you setup Alipay so you can get on your way shopping online in China.
WeChat Pay (inside WeChat)
WeChat Pay came on to the mobile payment scene in 2014 and is a strong rival to Alipay. WeChat and Alipay allow you to pay for many things both online and offline. In addition to that, WeChat Pay proves to be easier for foreigners to setup since the app is in English(and other languages) and it’s ease of use. However, the general consensus is that WeChat Pay is not as secure as Alipay and with WeChat’s recent security issues, it would be wise to use WeChat Pay with caution.
Once you get a hold of how to use the payment services and shopping website above, life in China really can become much more convenient. Typical situations like shopping where you would have to venture out and battle traffic, loads of people, etc. is now made much more convenient and allows you to stay in your own little “bubble” for those bad China days.