Online stores get new look for clients

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-15 08:09

Welcome to a virtual pavilion of quality goods.

It might seem a corny catchline, but online shopping sites here are morphing into more advanced businesses.

Now, they are specializing in not only selling products but improving the "customer experience".

Tmall, China's largest business-to-customer e-commerce site and part of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, had its first major brand makeover recently.

A new slogan "Ideal Life at Tmall" was trotted out, replacing, "It's enough to shop on Tmall".

But the main difference was the way it transformed its massive supermarket-style approach to a more sophisticated virtual department store of quality goods.

By tracking sales data in the past year, Tmall has found that younger, wealthier middle class customers in China have changed their life-styles.

The emphasis is on healthy food and eco-friendly products.

To back this up statistically, more than 100 million bicycles were sold on Tmall in 2016, while sales for environmentally friendly paint and interior decorations grew by 89 percent although there was no detailed data.

Chinese consumers also defied traditional stereotypes in gender and age.

Last year, men spent 1.5 times or more on skin care products than they did in 2015.

Those aged 40 or above bought gadgets such as drones and GoPro cameras in 2016, a marked increase compared to the previous year.

Products for single people also soared with sales of mini washing machines topping 1 billion yuan ($147.1 million) last year although there was no detailed data.

Consumers are also embracing a wide-range of health-conscious gadgets. Sales of digital weighing machines with data storage functions surged 430 percent last year compared to 2015.

But again there were no detailed figures.

"During the next five years, 40 percent of e-shoppers in China will buy goods from 15 categories, including books, clothing and even online finance," Boston Consulting Group highlighted in a report.

"That is a much higher e-commerce penetration than in Western countries."

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