Global Retail Trends Show China Leading the Charge in Online, Mobile Shopping
Today's consumers are infinitely more knowledgeable about products and brands thanks to vast amounts of information available to them in one click. Consumers decide when, where and how the buying process begins and ends. Mobile transactions are on the rise and transforming the way business is done around the world.
Shoppers across the globe are increasingly comfortable purchasing through multiple channels, ranging from in-store to online or through a mobile device. IBM's annual survey of 26,000 consumers from 14 countries shows that shoppers in developing economies are beginning to favor the convenience and personalization provided by online and mobile shopping sites.
Chinese consumers, in particular, are showing a much higher inclination to shop online than their global counterparts. According to the survey, 31 percent of shoppers in China said that they made their last purchase online, compared to 14 percent worldwide.
With the growing number of mobile devices, the emergence of "showrooming" is becoming a global concern for retailers. In China, it's become a national pastime, demonstrating the increasing sophistication of Chinese shoppers looking for competitive prices via their mobile devices.
In China alone, more than 75 percent of all online purchases were triggered by showrooming. Furthermore, at least 52 percent of all Chinese shoppers plan to make their next purchase online, as 32 percent of store buyers plan to shift their purchase online.
Consumers around the world want a truly integrated shopping experience. To meet the rising demands from consumers, retailers are looking for ways to provide consistent offers, improve convenience across every consumer touchpoint and uncover customer preferences.
Tellingly, Chinese consumers tend to be more willing than shoppers in other parts of the world to share personal data with retailers — from lifestyle and demographic information to their financial background or location. Xiu.com, one of China's leading online retailers of overseas luxury brands, grew its daily sales by 10 times by improving the individual shopping experience and increasing product selection based on expressed consumer preferences.
By using analytics to gain a real-time view of customer and product data, Xiu.com is able to tailor interactions with customers based on individual shopping habits and preferences resulting in increased customer loyalty, satisfaction and spend. The company uses the information shoppers have shared as the basis for its ongoing marketing strategy, enabling highly targeted outreach campaigns.
This is precisely what online and brick-and-mortar retailers in China and the world over must do to provide consumers a better shopping experience regardless of the channel they choose. The key is using data and analytics to better understand the behavior and preferences of shoppers to help close the sale.
Craig Stevenson is the executive director and general manager, retail industry, IBM Greater China.