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Amazon China President: the Chinese e-commerce revolution

Amazon China President: the Chinese e-commerce revolution

The world’s biggest mall is located in China, and it’s 99% empty.

Why? E-commerce has transformed China. Turning physical retail locations into desolate, barren signifiers of a post-analogue world.  

The Internet has opened up a global inventory to anyone, anytime. The increased penetration of smartphones in China has added to this too.

It has made e-commerce so pervasive that the desolation of the Western high street looks rudimentary by comparison.

“It’s rather an interesting place” laughs president of Amazon China, Doug Gurr as we caught up with him at the UKTI GREAT Global Investment Conference.

“There is very little developed physical retail, the traffic is horrendous, people live in cities of 10,20,30 million people. It makes it hard to get around. So other than fresh food, they all do their shopping online.”

This in part, comes down to the Chinese people having more money to spend, but perhaps more influentially, (other than the Internet revolution of course) the regional nature of physical Chinese retail, making it exceedingly difficult to scale up store networks across such a large and diverse country.

It is simply impossible to grow bricks and mortar stores at a rate fast enough to meet demand.

And with the growth of the middle class in lower tiered cities ballooning (McKinsey predict that by 2022 more than 75% of China’s urban consumers will earn between $9,000 to $34,000 per year) there’s another method, infinitely scalable, and meeting the demands of consumers.


As Jack Ma, the charismatic founder of Alibaba puts it, “In the US, e-commerce is just a dessert – it is supplementary. In China, e-commerce is the main course.”

In this weeks episode of the Hot Topics podcast, Peter Stojanovic sat down with Doug Gurr, Amazon China president, to discuss emerging Chinese retail trends, social shopping and cross border e-commerce.

For the full episode, and more insight on Chinese retail trends, listen above.   

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