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How Amazon China is capitalizing on the Asian ecommerce mega-market

Peter Stojanovic

Chinese consumers shop differently and it's down to Douglas Gurr, President of Amazon China, to catch this ecommerce mega trend and utilize it for his firm's Asian reach.

In the world’s largest ecommerce market, it’s critical that businesses stay up to date with the trends driving an industry.

In China, these ecommerce mega trends are deep rooted in the way consumers operate and engage with companies and their services, which, for the likes of Amazon, is tied to existing infrastructure in the Asian country.

Talking to Hot Topics at the UKTI GREAT Global Investment Conference, Douglas Gurr, President of Amazon in China, puts it another way.

“China is a very interesting market because its physical retail [infrastructure] is less developed than the West, but the technology is very good, which means they have a number of leapfrog technologies here.”

In this context, Gurr is talking especially about digital technology.

China’s digital market is incredibly advanced – more so than most people assume in fact. Internet penetration is at its highest levels ever and 80% of internet mobile users use mobile for ecommerce.

This has had huge implications to the way people shop, contributing to an ecommerce mega trend filtering consumers away from physical retails stores.

“If I were to talk to a group of young, Chinese woman and ask them very simply when they last went to a shop, they would look at you like you were a bit stupid. ‘Why would I go to a shop?’ they would ask. Physical retail outlets aren’t as developed; there is also very bad traffic in cities with millions people.”

This has led to ecommerce as the medium in which retailers, like Amazon, introduce their brand to consumers; that’s where Chinese product discovery is.

This ecommerce mega trend is also fuelled by the incredibly mature social commerce strategy in the country.

Sites like WeChat and Weibo have millions of consumers posting about what they have bought, why and, more importantly, how they rate it.

“Product details are of a higher standard and social shopping is a larger phenomenon than in the West”

Whether or not the West should heed this digitally enhanced ecommerce mega trend is complicated. On the one hand, every market is turning digital as it becomes the platform of choice, but China’s unique demographics, infrastructure and governmental restrictions have enabled ecommerce to balloon and become the crucial business pillar it is today.