Information will be key to reaching consumers

Updated: 2014-01-22 14:29

By Meng Jing (China Daily)

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Information will be key to reaching consumers

For Brian Hui, vice-president of Amazon China, there are no big differences between 2013 and 2014 in the world of e-commerce. "No matter on which devices people make their online purchases, laptops or mobile devices, what they look for are essentially the same: a nice shopping experience," Hui said in an interview with China Daily.

"Do you have a vast number of offerings? Are your products of better quality and lower prices compared with other platforms? Do you possess a good service structure and fast delivery?"

To provide better answers to these questions, Amazon China turned to technology, big data in particular. Not only are Amazon's online pages for each product generated automatically rather than manually to save cost, the company also uses big data technology to provide each customer with a list of recommended items based on their purchasing records.

"Compared with sales promotions and advertisements, technology is what makes us stand out in the market in the long run," Hui said. For example, the company selected about 500,000 products out of the 20 million it keeps in stock to participate in China's Dec 12 online shopping gala.

The majority of the products involved in the sales event were chosen automatically by computers. "Based on the large database covering Amazon China's shoppers and the company's edge in data-mining, the computers can predict what Chinese customers want to buy in December," said Hui.

With the e-commerce market in China becoming more mature and more rational, the competition within the sector is gradually shifting from price wars to hard-core technology. A large number of e-commerce companies in China have made big data technology a priority in 2014.

Liu Qiangdong, chief executive officer and founder of, a leading business-to-consumer online marketplace in China, said in a recent media briefing in December that progress in technology is one of the five priorities for the company's development in 2014.

"Mobile technology and big data are the two key areas in which we want to have breakthroughs in 2014," Liu said, adding that needs to build a research and development mechanism to bring better and more innovative products and services to customers.

Yu Gang, chairman of, one of the largest online supermarkets in China, also made big data top on the company's agenda in 2014. According to Yu, will increase its investment in big data application and provide personalized marketing and services though data-mining.

There are no official statistics about the investment in big data technology from e-commerce companies in China, but Lu Zhenwang, an independent Internet expert and the chief executive officer of Shanghai-based Wanqing Consultancy, said with the increasing sizes of databases and the improving technology of data-mining, big data will play an increasingly important role in e-commerce in the near future.