The China Internet Network Information Center released some startling figures on the growth, size and potential of China’s ecommerce market. The sector earned more than 1.2 trillion RMB ($190 billion) in 2012. That’s a 66.5 increase over what it made the year before.
And with 242 million Chinese Internet users purchasing goods last year in a country of more than 1.3 billion people, there is still plenty of room to grow. Despite the high numbers, ecommerce purchases still made up only 6.1 percent of the total retail sales for all consumer goods in China.
The growth was the result of widespread adoption of mobile, which has introduced the Internet to a growing segment of the Chinese population. In the last half of 2012, 40.7 percent of online shoppers used a mobile device to browse ecommerce sites, with 53.6 accessing ecommerce channels via mobile instead of a traditional desktop.
The most common purchases were clothing, at 81.8 percent, daily necessities, at 31.6 percent, and computers and digital electronics, at 29.6 percent.
About 53.3 percent of respondents used their mobile devices to shop while still at home, as many are turning to mobile instead of desktops to research ecommerce options. About 26.2 percent reported browsing on smartphones at work or school, while 10.6 percent research ecommerce options while in commute or using public transport.
Those are some serious numbers, but it’s only the beginning. China’s ecommerce market is set to soon overtake the US. Last November, China’s “Double Eleven,” a Chinese holiday for singles on November 11 similar to Valentine’s Day, helped Chinese ecommerce site Taobao to earn $3 billion in a single day, more than twice the $1.25 billion Cyber Monday earned in the US just before. Continue to expect startling growth rates from China as its sizable population enters the middle class and can afford next generation technologies.